Cam Newton has not had much success against the Seahawks.
Then again, for about two months this season, the Panthers didn't have much success against anyone.
The lesson: Things change.
The NFC South champions were winless from Oct. 6 to Dec. 6. They lost six in a row, were 0-6-1 during that stretch and seemed unable to do much of anything well. One of those games was a 13-9 home loss to the Seahawks.
Newton and the Panthers hope for a different outcome when they face the defending Super Bowl champs in an NFC divisional playoff game Saturday night at rowdy CenturyLink Field.
"We're a different team than six games ago," Newton said this week. "That's the truth."
They've won five in a row, including last week's ugly 27-16 win over the Cardinals in the wild-card game in Charlotte, North Carolina. They finished the regular season 7-8-1 and topped a division that might have been the weakest in recent NFL history, becoming only the second team ever to make the playoffs with a losing record.
There are no more Ryan Lindleys, though. No more floundering Falcons and subpar Saints. These are the Seahawks, in Seattle, in the playoffs.
"When you win football games, you must be doing something right," Newton said. "At the same time, I'm not hanging my hat on those wins. We feel like we can play better, and the truth of the matter is we need to play better versus those guys."
Newton is 0-3 in his career against Seattle. He has led only one touchdown drive in the three losses. He has averaged only 145.7 passing yards per game against them and has completed only 54 percent of his passes. He has eight sacks and three turnovers, two of them on fumbles. Even his rushing yards have been minimal: 104 on 24 carries and no touchdowns in the three games.
"I can't really put a finger on it," Newton said of his struggles against the Seahawks. "They have great players and they're coached extremely well."
Those three games were in Carolina, too. This will be Newton's first visit to Seattle.
"He just has to take what they give him," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said. "I know one thing about him is that he is so competitive and he wants to make things happen, but I think exercising the right type of patience will be good for him . . . If Cam plays the way he has in some of the games in this past five-week stretch, there are some really good possibilities for us."
Newton was far from perfect last Saturday against the Cards.
"When I look back at this past game, we had ample opportunities to score," he said. "We had a couple of turnovers, senseless turnovers at that. Me being number one on the blame list, being the leader of this offense, we just have to do better. If we do that, who knows what the game will turn out to be?"