BRADY HENDERSON

Seahawks facing Panthers for 8th time since 2010 (and why that is)

Dec 1, 2016, 1:28 PM | Updated: 1:34 pm

RENTON – Sunday night’s game at CenturyLink Field will mark the eighth time since 2010 that the Seahawks have played Carolina. They’ve met five times in the regular season, including each of the past four years, and in the divisional round of the playoffs the last two seasons.

That’s why Seahawks coach Pete Carroll compared it to an NFC West game on Wednesday.

“A great matchup that we’ve played for years. It feels like playing a team that’s in the division, I’m that familiar with these guys,” he said of the Panthers, who are 4-7 after losing the Super Bowl last season. “They’ve had a tough start to the season but they still look like a very good team and a very dangerous team. They’ve had so many close games. We know that they’re going to be fighting like crazy and we’re going to have to play very well.

“That’s a week for us to bounce back and play good football. We have set our sights on that and we’re going to really work at the things we need to clean up, and hopefully we can put together a much better football game. These guys are good and we know it and they’ve got highlighted players everywhere.”

The Seahawks are 5-2 against Carolina in their seven games since 2010. They won the first four of the five regular-season matchups before losing last year. The teams have split their playoff games the last two seasons, each winning at home.

As for why it has become a seemingly annual regular-season meeting, that invites a closer look at how NFL schedules are comprised. Here’s how the 16 games are determined:

• Six are against the three other teams from the same division. So the Seahawks play a home-and-home each season with the Rams, 49ers and Cardinals. That’s the easy part of the equation.

• Eight are against each of the four teams from two other divisions, one in each conference. This season, the Seahawks are playing the NFC South (Carolina, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Atlanta) and the AFC East (New England, the Jets, Buffalo, Miami). Which divisions face each other in a given season is based on a pre-set rotation. Each division from the same conference will face off once every three years while it’s every four years for divisions in the other conference. That’s why the Seahawks also played the NFC South in 2010 and in 2013. And it’s why they also played the AFC East in 2008 and 2012.

• The other two games are against one team from each of the two remaining divisions within the same conference. The matchup aligns teams that finished the previous season in the same place within its division. Seattle’s two such games this season are against Green Bay and Philadelphia. The Seahawks finished second in the NFC West last season while the Packers (NFC North) and Eagles (NFC East) were also second in their divisions. When the Seahawks played Carolina in the regular season in 2012, 2014 and 2015, it was because they finished in the same place the season before.

Got all that?

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