Cam Newton is off to the best start of his NFL career.
Now the question becomes whether the Carolina Panthers fifth-year quarterback can carry over that success on Sunday against his primary nemesis, the Seattle Seahawks.
Newton continues to make strides in his development as an NFL quarterback for the unbeaten Panthers and has a career-high passer rating of 88.5 behind seven touchdowns and only two interceptions. He's also run for two scores.
But when it comes to the two-time defending NFC champion Seahawks, Newton has struggled.
He's 0-4 against Seattle, including a 31-17 loss in last year's NFC divisional playoffs in which he threw a fourth quarter interception that was returned 90 yards for a touchdown by safety Kam Chancellor.
Newton only has three touchdowns passing and no TDs rushing in four games against Seattle. His QB rating (73.4) is the worst among teams he's faced at least three times in his career, according to STATS.
Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula believes a more poised Newton is better prepared this time around.
"Really, on game day, he's had a real good sense of ownership of getting our guys in the right position, seeing some one-on-ones for the soft parts of coverage," Shula said Monday. "Just the comfort level . . . that's kind of shown itself a little bit."
But Shula also knows Seattle has been a huge challenge for Carolina.
The Panthers have not scored more than 17 points in any of their last four meetings with Newton at the helm. And despite the Seahawks penchant for surrendering fourth quarter leads this season, Shula said, "They're really good."
"We've got to make first downs and stay out of long yardage," Shula said. "They thrive on long yardage and they thrive on turnovers."