Carolina (1-10) at Seattle (5-6)

By ALAN FERGUSON, STATS Writer Friday, Dec 3, 2010 Kickoff: 4:15 pm EST Sun Dec 5, 2010

The Seattle Seahawks haven’t looked like division title contenders, but they still have a chance to finish atop a lackluster NFC West.

To win their fifth title in seven years, the Seahawks will likely need to snap out of a slump that’s seen them drop four of five. A visit from the league-worst Carolina Panthers on Sunday could help them do just that.

Wins in four of its first six games under new coach Pete Carroll gave Seattle a one-game lead in the NFC West on Oct. 24, but the Seahawks (5-6) have failed to build on that advantage thanks to a string of poor performances.

The latest one came in a 42-24 home loss to Kansas City in which Seattle gave up its season high for points and 503 yards - 270 on the ground.

“We have to be more disciplined,” Carroll told the team’s website. “We let opportunities get away in the running game. To play the run well, you have to be really disciplined. You have to be in the right spots play after play.”

The Seahawks haven’t been in the right spots too many times lately, giving up at least 487 yards in each of their last four defeats. They’ve also rushed for fewer than 60 yards in those losses, including a season-low 20 against the Chiefs.

Marshawn Lynch(notes), acquired Oct. 5 from Buffalo, has topped 50 only once in his seven games with the team, gaining 89 on 24 carries in a win over Arizona on Oct. 24.

“We’ve got to start up again and get going,” Carroll said. “So that’s what this week will be all about.”

Injuries haven’t helped Carroll’s club, but leading receiver Mike Williams (52 catches, 654 yards) is expected to play after sitting last weekend with a foot injury.

Ben Obomanu(notes) tried to pick up the slack in his absence with 14 receptions for 306 yards in three consecutive starts, including five catches for 159 yards last week.

Obomanu had 16 receptions and 221 yards in his two previous seasons in Seattle.

Fullback Michael Robinson(notes) (hamstring) and center Chris Spencer(notes) (ankle), meanwhile, could play against the Panthers (1-10), who have also experienced injury problems during their miserable campaign.

Carolina placed leading rusher DeAngelo Williams(notes) on injured reserve Nov. 17, and Jonathan Stewart(notes) also missed time with a concussion before returning in last week’s 24-23 loss at Cleveland. Last season, the two became the first teammates in NFL history to top 1,100 yards in a season.

The Panthers got quarterback Jimmy Clausen(notes) back from a concussion last week and matched a season high for points. However, that didn’t help the team avoid a fifth straight loss as John Kasay’s(notes) 42-yard field goal attempt bounced off the left upright as time expired.

Kasay had previously made a 43-yarder in the fourth quarter to give Carolina a two-point lead after it fell behind 21-7 in the first half. Clausen, who passed for a career-best 195 yards, fell to 0-5 as an NFL starter.

“Our season is still five games to go and the next one up is a long trip out west to Seattle,” coach John Fox said. “We’ll start the preparation for that and make the corrections off this one. Hopefully, we’ll learn and apply it the next week.”

While they rank last offensively, the Panthers have gained at least 300 yards in two of the past three games - 40.8 more than their season average.

Mike Goodson(notes) has played well in his three starts, gaining 275 yards on 59 carries. He also scored his first NFL touchdown in last week’s defeat.

Along with a healthier Stewart, he’ll try to help the Panthers win only their second road game in 10 tries. They are 0-5 away from home this season for their longest skid since dropping their final seven road games during a 1-15 campaign in 2001.

After winning its first three at home, Seattle is trying to avoid losing three in a row there for the first time since a five-game skid Oct. 12-Dec. 7, 2008.

The teams have split four all-time matchups with each team winning twice at home. One of those losses for Carolina at Seattle was a 34-14 defeat in the NFC championship game Jan. 22, 2006.

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