The Battle of Midway, in June 1942, was one of the most important and decisive turning points in World War II. It was the first major victory for the U.S. and Allied Forces in the Pacific. After this four-day battle, the Japanese naval fleet no longer maintained a superiority over the Americans.
Another "Battle of Midway" will take place this coming Sunday. Perhaps not as world-changing or historic, but still important to the Carolina Panthers. It will also happen "on" the Pacific. They will travel to San Francisco to battle the 49'ers. This will essentially be the first real test for the Panthers since their opening day loss to the Seattle Seahawks, another Pacific rival. Carolina dominated and held a small lead throughout that game until late in the second half, when they basically gave the game away on a late-game fumble.
| San Francisco 49'ers VS Carolina Panthers|
This Sunday Nov 10
If the Panthers beat the 49'ers, and the Saints lose to the Dallas Cowboys, the Panthers and Saints would be TIED at 6-3 for the NFC South division lead. Pretty exciting, huh?!
I've heard the advice before, "Don't do anything halfway," or "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." Well, if the NFL season were to end today, the Panthers would win the sixth (6th) and final wild card playoff spot in the NFC. But we're only halfway through the season, and there's a lot of football yet to be played. And -YES- the Panthers have looked -VERY GOOD- over their recent four-game winning streak. But as we've pointed out previously, their opposition has not been of the highest caliber, having a combined losing record. In fact, none of the teams they have beaten so far will be in the playoffs. However, that is not true of their next two opponents.
Will the Panthers be a playoff team? Will they play up to their names and potential, or will they appear more like oversized pussycats? Time will tell... in particular, the next two weeks. I'm taking bets on them -- but if and only if they get by the 49'ers (6-2) this coming Sunday (Nov. 10) and the Patriots (7-2) on Monday Night Football (Nov. 18). These two teams have a long history and legacy of winning, not just games, but Super Bowl games. And while the Panthers' current record is only one win less, I'm not sure anyone thinks that Carolina is in the same "league" with them yet. And unfortunately, the 49'ers have had two weeks to get ready for the Panthers. Cam Newton and the rest of the team can prove us and the rest of the NFL wrong- and I hope they do- this coming weekend.
The Panthers do not wish to pin their hopes on a wild card berth in the playoffs. The results of this past weekend (a win by the Panthers, 34-10, over the Atlanta Falcons, and an overtime loss by the Falcons, 27-24, to the New York Jets) has propelled Carolina into the "Driver's Seat" to win the NFC South division title. They are just one slim game behind the first-place Saints in the standings, with two upcoming decisive games between the two possibly deciding the champion. If the Panthers can win both games against the Saints (which will be a difficult task), they are almost sure division winners.
Their chances may be much slimmer if they remain as the second (2nd) place team in the NFC South. The two top runner-ups will be awarded the wild card playoff berths. The 49'ers or the Seahawks are almost a "gimme" for one of these spots. The other spot is a toss-up among several other teams. Currently, the Panthers are tied at 5-3 with the Packers, Bears and Lions, and are just a half game ahead of the 5-4 Cowboys, and one game ahead of the 4-4 Cardinals. The bottom line is- the Panthers face only ONE opponent for the division title (Saints), but they would be competing with at least 3 to 4 other teams for a wild card playoff berth.
So- the Panthers can control their own fate. It's up to them- beat out the Saints, or roll the proverbial dice in the wild card race, where only one team wins, and the rest go watch at home. Let's hope for the best. Be sure to pass the word to Cam- the 49'ers are wearing "RED" this weekend.