Saturday, December 26, 2015

Stretch Run


    "Keep On Pounding!"--- this has become the Panthers' battle cry over the past few seasons.  First initiated by popular Panthers linebacker Sam Mills, and immortalized during his fight with cancer, this team mantra has excited and motivated both players and fans.    The focus of this slogan has been the "Pounding", and the team has a tradition before games, when someone who's usually a big fan or celebrity (or both) gets picked to pound a huge drum on the sidelines.

   As the Panthers hit the home stretch, an equally important focus are the words "Keep On"--- it's easy to get ahead of the game, setting our sights on the playoffs, or even the Super Bowl, and allow our attention to be diverted from the most important thing--- the next game.   The Panthers have two more regular season games.  

   For the first three quarters of the Giants game, it appeared that the Panthers were in Super Focus mode--- they were up on the Giants by 35-7, a supposedly unsurmountable lead.  But no one seemed to make that clear to the Giants.   Suddenly, they came back to life.    Giants QB Eli Manning threw three of his four touchdown passes in the second half, and the last one to tie the game at 35-35.   The our own QB--- and Superman-- Cam Newton helped march the Panthers down the field, and set up a game--winning field goal by kicker Graham Gano with no time left on the clock.

   It seemed that although the game itself was dramatic enough in its own right, Panthers CB Josh Norman and Giants' Odell Beckham, Jr. stole the show with their own personal struggle. Both players drew multiple penalties, and Beckham was suspended one game by the NFL for their rough and tough personal battle.


  Against the Falcons, we have the opportunity to clinch Home Field Advantage during the playoffs.   This writer thought we would clinch that with a win over the Giants, but it escaped my attention that the Cardinals also had to lose.   Since they didn't cooperate, we still have to win vs. the Falcons to clinch that position.

   Having "Home Field Advantage" is a big plus for this team.  It would be great to be able to stay home during the playoffs.   It would be a big disappointment to lose that advantage and have to travel to Green Bay, Seattle, or Phoenix during the postseason.   Surely, our chances of making the Super Bowl are much better if we get to play at home.


  One of the keys to the postseason will be to stay healthy.   The Panthers are keeping RB Jonathan Stewart on the sidelines right now to rest and recuperate from an ankle injury.  We already lost a starting cornerback.   So far-- besides our star receiver Kelvin Benjamin before the season started-- that's the only major injury to our team.    We need a completely healthy team from here on out to be able to make a run at the Super Bowl.


   Okay--- hold on-- the next couple of weeks will be somewhat of a downer for me.  I'm hoping that the Panthers' focus is better than mine.   I'm ready for the playoffs to start-- today.  But we will have to wait until January 17 or 18.    Right now, it looks as if we will play the Vikings, Seahawks, or Redskins--- based on who wins the Wild Card playoff games on January 10 / 11.

     Keep your seatbeat buckled and we will soon start the ride of our lives--- to Super Bowl 50.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Giant Game

     For some, today's game between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants wanes in importance compared to many of the games already played, and a few yet to be played, this season. Our team has already clinched a playoff berth, and won the NFC South division title for the third straight year.   Then there are some others who think today's game is of supreme importance---because we can keep our undefeated season hopes alive.    A victory today will match the Miami Dolphins' 14-0 regular season of 1972.

      Both opinions would be wrong.   Today's game --IS-- important, but NOT because of the possibility of achieving a perfect season.   No--- today's game is all about The Turf.   We are playing for a seldom--discussed, but all--important topic---  Home Field Advantage.   The Panthers already own ONE home playoff game.   But if they win today against the Giants, they could also play the NFC Championship Game in Charlotte.  A huge difference, considering the alternative might be going on the road to Green Bay, Seattle, or Arizona--- all long distances from home.

    And it would be nice if this was a throw--away game for the Giants.   Even though sometimes losing teams play for the pride factor, this game means even more for them.  Though they have a losing record of 6-7, they are locked in a three--way tie for the division lead (and a playoff spot) with the Redskins and Eagles.  And unlike a few other teams, the Giants can ONLY make the playoffs by winning their division. Their record will not justify a wild card spot.

    YES--- today is a Giant Game.

    Let me do some catching up with you.  Over the past four games, the Panthers have raised both heads and eyebrows--- while maintaining a dominating defense ranked 3rd in the NFL, Cam Newton and the energized Panthers offense have also averaged 39 points per game to overtake Arizona and New England as the Highest Scoring team in the league.   The Panthers have scored 411 points this season, while giving up only 243 to opposing teams.  This is an amazing feat, considering the Panthers have ALWAYS been considered a defense--minded kind of a team.   I don't think anything has really changed-- the team still emphasizes defense, but our offense has come into its own this season.    But this is especially amazing, since they have done this without our top receiver, Kelvin Benjamin--- some fans might also mention, without our team's franchise leading rusher, DeAngelo Williams, who went to Pittsburgh in the off season.

    The offense's late surge notwithstanding, let's also NOT forget our defense, who, after giving up 38 points to the Saints, bounced back and registered their first shutout of the season, 38--0, against their arch-rival division opponent  Atlanta Falcons.

    By the way, cheers to Bene Benwikere, Carolina's CB, who started most of the team's games this season, before breaking his leg in the Falcons game.   Here's hoping that we will escape any future major injuries for the rest of the season.   Late--season injuries have always been a "show--stopper" for teams contending for a title.    And here's also hoping the rest of the secondary can step up to help in his absence.

    More after the game today.

Today @ 1pm

Monday, November 30, 2015

And Then-- There Was ONE

       Earlier this week, the magic number was 11---- 11--0.    
But now-- this week-- there is a NEW magic number--- ONE.

    You see--- this weekend, HISTORY was made in the NFL.  ______________________________________
     First of all, the Carolina Panthers became part of an elite group of teams--- just a handful--- who have started the season 11--0.  The eventual promise of an undefeated season seemed all the more attainable.  Five more games and we are in a select group of THREE-- with the 1972 Miami Dolphins and the 2007 New England Patriots.

    History was made again on Sunday when the Broncos played this year's version of the Patriots in the snow at Denver and beat them in overtime, 30--24, giving New England its first loss of the season, and making CAROLINA the only undefeated team remaining in the NFL.

    This is a prestigious, and also precarious, position for an NFL team.  On the one hand, we have made history.   We have NOT only broken all kinds of team franchise records, but now we are in the NFL history books as well.   But at the same time, we no longer have a measuring stick to gauge our progress.   It was good to look at the Cincinnati Bengals or the New England Patriots and say, "They may be undefeated, but --we-- are better than they are at  (fill--in--the--blank)".  

     But maybe having ourselves as our only measuring stick isn't such a bad idea.   I've heard the Panthers coaches and players saying that they were not satisfied by being undefeated-- they still feel they can be a better team, and want to improve each and every game.   Now, we no longer have someone else that we may look over our shoulders and wonder about.   It becomes a matter of fulfilling our destiny as a team.   That will only happen as each player fulfills his own potential as a player and member of the team.   

    It's no longer (if it ever was) a thing of trying to keep up with the Joneses (or the Patriots) but about being the (to use a cliche) "best we can be".  It seems that Destiny is calling our name and number this year.   If we blow it-- it will be just because of THAT-- we will beat ourselves before anyone else is able to do it.   I'm hoping that I'm right in believing that each Panther player and coach believes in the team and understands we cannot look ahead or get lackadaisical, or begin to pat ourselves on the back for-- well-- accomplishing "nothing."  Being undefeated in the regular season will get you lots of accolades and applause--- but no trophy.

$2.5 Million to a Loyal Fan
    On a more personal level, if you were half as good of a loyal Panthers fan as you think you are, you would also be a rich man (or woman) right now.    The Super Bowl odds for the Panthers was 50--1 back in the preseason.   If you had emptied your bank account, and mortgaged your house, a $50,000 investment would have brought you a cool $2.5 million.    All I can do is keep reminding myself that "the love of money is the root of all evil"  and that we can't take it with us.  

   I don't know about you--- but this season is somewhat of a new, exciting twist-- and  I'm finding myself spending every possible free moment looking at anything Panther--esque.   "Panthers Huddle" and "Panthers Game Day" are both locked in on my DVR schedule.    I check the Observer Sports pages every chance that I get, or look up their "Panthers Insider" online.    I listen to ESPN and tune in to watch the entire Pre--Game show.   It's like a fantasy sports world for us Panthers fans.   I had a Redskins fan tell me not to get "too snobby" about my Panthers.   YEP-- he's right.   We can get a little TOO caught up.

Looking Back with a Laugh at Losing Years
     It might pay us all a favor to go and pull out an old VHS tape or two of the Panthers' inaugural 1995 season, or maybe 2001 (1--15 record), ones when they were struggling just to get a first down, much less a winning season or a playoff berth. 

     Maybe we got a bit spoiled when in our second year ('96) we went all the way to the NFC Championship.   But we lost.   All of our successes have been short--lived.   We've been in the playoffs six times (1996, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2013, 2014) and lost our last game six times.   One year we made it to the Super Bowl (in 2003).   Three times we made it to the NFC Championship (1996, 2003, 2005).   I think the last three trips to the playoffs have been especially disappointing, at least as a fan.   Last year may have been an exception, only because we barely got into the playoffs, winning our division with a losing record.

     Hey-- let's end on a positive note.  This is a different year.  Things to be truly thankful for---
  •  We're undefeated (yay!) --- 11--0--- (a Panthers franchise record)
  • We will no doubt win our NFC South Division title for the third straight season (another Panthers-- and NFC record)
  • We will have at least one Home playoff game--- and chances are good that we will play ALL of our playoff games at home this year
  •  We are relatively injury--free.  Hopefully we will stay that way.
  •  As much as we are excited for the Panthers and this amazing season, let's remember that it --IS-- just a game.  Let's remember to put God and Family first-- and not get so caught up in our team that we forget everything else that is important in our lives. 
   The team will be heading down to New Orleans this week to face the Saints at the SuperDome in front of a home crowd of 75,000 screaming fans.   Hopefully, we will continue our modus operandi of getting points on the board early and dominating the opposing quarterback.   It doesn't hurt anything that the Saints defense is next to last in the NFL, giving up over 400 yards and 30 points per game.

Stay tuned for more Panthers blogs--- 
as we finish strong and head to the Playoffs !


   Back in the 70's and 80's, there was no Internet and Video Games were the craze.  There were home versions and there were video gamerooms in most malls and theaters.   One of the most popular games was PacMan.   As I was thinking about how dominating the Panthers defense has been this season and especially in recent games, the thought of a Panthers Pac--Man came to mind.   You might also call it "Quarter Bac--Man"--- some of you younger readers may NOT appreciate this as much--- but there's probably a Smart Phone app for PacMan and maybe some computer nerd will come up with a Panthers version.   For now--- this is all I've got.

Sunday, November 29, 2015



New Orleans Saints


Panthers Rolling Snake Eyes

Panthers Beat the Cowboys
   The Carolina Panthers are on a much--deserved 'mini--bye" week, with ten days off  following their Thanksgiving Day massacre of the Dallas Cowboys.   But don't be surprised if our team is working harder than ever during this 'vacation'.   They seem to be resolved not to be satisfied until ALL of their team goals are met this season.   

    They are a perfect 11--0.   Although almost no one expected this kind of a season-- or record --so far, more and more people--- including professional sports analysts --- are getting on board the Panthers bandwagon.

 BEST CHANCE? _________________________________
Rolling Along
      Prior to the season's start, Carolina's odds were 50 to 1 to win the Super Bowl.  This week, the Panthers began to garner the respect they rightfully deserve as they took over the top spot from the New England Patriots.  Yes-- according to the oddsmakers, our team has the BEST chance to make it to the Big Game.

     A Falcons loss to the Vikings today will give the Panthers a playoff berth, and also make them the NFC South Champion for the third straight year.  We head down to face the Saints next weekend in a game that many would say means nothing.   But it is far from that to the Panthers.  From here on out, Carolina will be playing for homefield advantage, pride, and history.   Only two other teams have finished the regular season undefeated--- and only one--- the 1972 Dolphins-- finished the entire season unblemished.

    And while we're speaking of the Saints,  the Panthers have barely squeaked through a few of their past ten wins, just beating the Colts,  Seahawks and--- the Saints.    Last game, it was 27--22 at home in Charlotte.  This time, we play in front of 75,000 screaming Saints fans.   This trip to the Big Easy may not be all that easy as the Saints' Drew Brees is back from injury--- he was not playing in the previous game.

Will the Panthers Make It to the Super Bowl?

IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAT? ____________________________
   It's only been the past four games that Carolina has begun to show a more complete and balanced  team, with the offense beginning to pick up steam and carry its weight, along with a dominating defense that is in the Top Ten in all defensive categories.   The Panthers are third in the NFL in scoring, averaging over 30 points per game, while having the third--rated overall defense in the league, which give up only about 88 yards per game rushing, and 18 points..

   Over the last four games, the Panthers have outscored their opponents (Packers, Titans, Redskins, Cowboys) by 141--69, or an average of 35--17, a winning margin of 18 points per game.

Dominating Defense
    Certainly,  several Panthers can be singled out for their amazing plays against the Cowboys. Luke Kuechly's two interceptions.   His and Kurt Coleman's returns for touchdowns.  The consistent play of offensive players Jonathan Stewart and Cam Newton

    Media and sports outlets are always looking to praise individuals, and point the spotlight on how they have singlehandedly dominated a sport or led their team to a championship.  Cam Newton  is a prime candidate for the NFL MVP award this year, and is featured on the cover of the current Sports Illustrated magazine.   He definitely deserves the recognition, and the Panthers would probably not be undefeated without him, and several other star players.

    But the Big Story is the emergence of the Panthers team this year.  Not just the TALENT of the team.   Newton himself has remarked that the Panthers may NOT be the most talented team in the NFL, but they may be the BEST team.  Veteran Panthers players have remarked that they feel a different, more powerful dynamic among this year's locker room and players.

    We've had great teams before--- the 1996 NFC Champions, led by the legendary Sam Mills. The 2003 Super Bowl team, with Jake Delhomme and Steve Smith.   Both of these teams, as well as others, show promise to go down as some of the greatest Panthers teams in their brief but storied history.   But the 2015 version may surpass them all-- it's not just the undefeated season (so far), it's not just their dominance during the past few games.   It's more of the feel of this year's team.   

    They seem to have a unity and strength that is impossible to beat.   And-- so far-- it has been.  ______________________________________

Will the Panthers Make It to the Super Bowl?

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cam & Company--- A Perfect Ten

    A bowling strike.   Bo Derek.   The Carolina Panthers.    All examples of a "perfect 10."    On any day but Sunday (if she were available), I might be tempted to choose Bo Derek over the Panthers.   But today--- no one beats the Panthers.   Absolutely no one.

Panthers Roll over the Skins
   Cam and Company rolled over the Washington Redskins today 44--16-- to go 10--0 on the season. The Panthers were good in almost every area.   They dominated the running game.  The Panthers outrushed the Redskins 142 --14, with Jonathan Stewart leading the way. Carolina out--yarded the Redskins 368--186.   

CAREER DAY FOR NEWTON _________________________

    QB Cam Newton had a career day, hitting five different receivers for a record five touchdown passes.   As usual, Newton's yardage stats were not astronomical, but he made it count whenever he got in the Red Zone. Rookie Devin Funchess made several impressive catches today, as did Ted Ginn, Jr. , but today's receiving was balanced among several Panthers players.

Cam Newton & Panthers : Perfect Ten
      The Panthers defense dominated  the Redskins offense.    When they weren't sacking the Redskins QB, they were hurrying him.   The Panthers also won the turnover battle, forcing four fumbles and an interception.  Carolina held the Redskins to only 14 yards on the ground. Most of the Redskins production came in the first quarter, or at the end of the game when it no longer mattered.  The Redskin scores came on an interception, a kickoff return, and a safety in the final seconds.

WHAT NEXT? __________________________________

   Okay--- so what for an encore?   We're 10--0.   That "10" looms large, but to me, it's also the Big Zero.   We have NOT lost yet.    The last time the Panthers lost was in the preseason, and before that, in the divisional playoffs against the Seahawks.   Going back to last season, the Panthers have actually won 14 straight regular season games (and still counting).

       We look invincible.  Undestructible.   Unbeatable.   Wait a second--- unbeatable?   No one (theoretically) is unbeatable.    What about that old adage--- any team can beat another team on any given day?     Go back and read my blog "Smooth Sailing"--- the best thing going for our Panthers team is NOT their record--- but their attitude.   They insist on taking this season "game--by--game".   The veteran leaders on the Panthers--- both long--time Panthers and NEW Panthers--- are leading the locker room and practices--- and not allowing the rookies and others to get lackadaisical or overconfident.

   Next up-- Dallas.  With Tony Romo back.   Should be a good game.  Will we win?   I hope so. If we continue fielding the same type team that manhandled the Redskins today, then I think we'll keep on winning.   Going unbeaten is NOT unattainable.   It's just improbable.  The reason is-- at some point, a team usually will have a letdown.   If we DO have one, oh God, let it come during the regular season.   I hope we save our BEST football for the playoffs--- and--- dare I say it?--- 
The Super Bowl ?

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Blessing of Mediocrity

    The Panthers went to Nashville and came back with yet another win for a perfect (and counting) 9--0.  QB Cam Newton had an extraordinary game, completing his first eleven passes and 21 out of 26 for the game, and both threw and ran for a touchdown.   He is chasing Steve Young's record of 43 running touchdowns by a quarterback.    And while the offense overall wasn't dominating, they were efficient enough, while the Panthers defense continues to overwhelm the opposition, allowing only 11 first downs and 10 points.

    My friend and I were just having a conversation tonight about how the NFL's overall strength has somehow deteriorated, and this year especially.   The concept of parity among teams seems to be lost.   In a record--breaking season in which there are THREE (count 'em) teams in the league with undefeated 8--0 or 9--0 records, the majority of teams are experiencing subpar records and seasons.

    Cases in point--- We find losing or barely .500 teams leading their divisions, like the Giants and the Colts.   On the other hand, there are also teams like the Patriots and Broncos leading their divisions by three and four games at the midpoint of the season.   

    Teams have lost starting quarterbacks (Dallas, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Indianapolis) and have struggled during the first half of the season.   Teams that were excellent last year have turned mediocre this season (Green Bay, Seattle).  Other teams just seem to have completely fallen apart (Atlanta, Washington, San Diego).

    There are eight teams (New England, Cincinnati, Carolina,  Denver, Minnesota, Arizona, Green Bay, & Atlanta) that are a combined 58--12 this season.   The rest of the league (24 teams) are a combined 86--132.

    I've NOT downplayed or spoken negatively about the Panthers season or team.  However, they have no doubt benefited from this season's disparity of teams.  Eight of Carolina's nine wins have come against losing teams, having a combined record of 28--43.   Only Green Bay currently has a winning record (6--3).   In Carolina's last seven games, they will meet teams with a combined record of 31--34.

    The Panthers are undoubtedly a very good team.   They may have also struck gold in playing their best football in a year in which the rest of the league is on a downturn.   If there's a sour note in the chord, it's that the Panthers have played their best games against the best teams.  In several games against mediocre competition, Carolina has barely squeaked out victories.

     Whatever you may say about it--- it's all good.    The worst thing that can happen is that the Panthers could meet an equally tough team in the playoffs or Super Bowl that may be more game--tested than our team.  

     Could there possibly be--- two 18--0 teams in the Super Bowl this year?   Maybe.   I believe by then, our team will be sufficiently strong to weather that storm.

    Hey--- our Panthers are Super--- one way or another.   It looks like a banner year.   A Super Bowl year.   Jerry's dream may come true.   What better year to do so than in the Super Bowl's 50th Anniversary year?   Let's stay on the bandwagon and ride it to the end of the road.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What Does It Mean to Be 8--0 ?

     Going 8--0.   Wow !   Yay !    We're rocking the NFL--- right ?   Well--- SORTA--- KINDA.

Don & Mike Shula--- circa 1972
     This is a first-- for the Carolina Panthers franchise-- and frankly, for EVERYONE-- players, coaches, fans, sports writers-- all of us.  There is literally NO ONE -- well wait, I take THAT back--- maybe offensive coordinator Mike Shula--- but he was only seven years old when his dad Don Shula's Miami Dolphins team went 17--0 in the 1972 season and beat the Washington Redskins 14--7 to win the Super Bowl.

    I'm NOT a big fan of statistics.   I probably would be-- if most of them held true.   But it's a FACT-- not a statistic-- that statistics usually lie or deceive.   They do NOT always paint the true picture.   But here are a few of them for you to consider, and if you choose, to throw away--- like I always do.
     There have been 21 NFL teams to start the season 8--0.   100% of them made it to the playoffs.   57% (12) made it to the Super Bowl.   But only 38% (8) won the Super Bowl.   What about the other 13 teams?    In just a minute, we'll take a look.

      When the Panthers were 7--0, my friend and I were talking and he said, "You know what going 7--0 guarantees you, don't ya?"   And he answered his own question, "It guarantees that you'll be at LEAST 7--9".    Wow--- Most of us Panthers fans are probably in orbit now.  It takes an honest perspective like his to really center you and take you back down to reality.

      What do I think?   I've seen people asking, "Do you think the Panthers could run the table?"  That is--- go undefeated--- 16--0.   It doesn't take a wizard to look back and remember the 2007 New England Patriots.   They were touted as the supreme team of the decade.  They won all sixteen regular season games and two playoff games to enter the Super Bowl at 18--0. 

Unhappy Tom Brady at 18--1
     There were practically no oddsmakers favoring the New York Giants, although just over a month before, the two teams had met in New York and the Patriots had just squeaked by the Giants, 38--35.   It would've appeared at that point that the two teams were almost equally matched.  But the Patriots undefeated record stood in the way of anyone looking at the game in a logical way.  Every football fan knows what happened next.  The Giants narrowly defeated the Patriots in the final moments of the game to spoil their undefeated season and this game has been mentioned in the greatest upsets of all time, right up there with the Jets' 1969 victory over the Colts.
           Here's a LOOK back in time--- to other near--perfect teams ---
  • The 1967 Baltimore Colts went 11-0 (with two ties) before losing their final game to the Green Bay Packers and not qualifying for the playoffs;
  • The 1969 Los Angeles Rams went 11--0 -- before losing their final three games and finishing 11--3, not making the playoffs;
  • The 1973 and 1975 Minnesota Vikings went 9--0 and 10--0 and both years lost in the playoffs or Super Bowl;
  • The 1984 Miami Dolphins went 11--0 but lost in the Super Bowl;
  • The 1990 San Francisco 49'ers went 10--0 but lost in the playoffs;
  • The 2005 Indianapolis Colts went 13--0 but lost in the playoffs;
  • The 2007 New England Patriots went 18--0 but lost in the Super Bowl.
  • The 2008 Tennessee Titans went 10--0 but lost in the playoffs;
  • The 2009 Indianapolis Colts went 14--0 but lost in the Super Bowl.
  • The 2011 Green Bay Packers went 13--0 but lost in the playoffs;
  • The 2012 Atlanta Falcons went 8--0 but lost in the playoffs;
  • The 2013 Kansas City Chiefs went 9--0 but lost in the playoffs;
     Only the following teams have gone 8--0 or better during the regular season and won the Super Bowl----
  • Miami Dolphins (1972)
  • Dallas Cowboys (1977)
  • Chicago Bears (1985) 
  • New York Giants (1990)
  • Washington Redskins (1991)
  • Denver Broncos (1998)
  • Indianapolis Colts (2006)

      What does ALL of this prove?   Absolutely NOTHING.   Before you label me a traitor or a naysayer, I'm NOT.   I'm just as much a Believer as anyone else.   I firmly believe that this ---could be--- our year to go ALL the way.    But if we do, it won't necessarily be because we went 8--0.  You can see that by how many other teams have fallen by the wayside over the years.

     What is positive from ALL of this is that we don't have to be like ALL of the other teams.  We can continue playing well --- and get even better.   We can cut down on our mistakes and make even more big plays.   The Panthers players can ALL be clutch performers and do what they need to do to take us to The Big Game--- and win it.     Wouldn't it be something if our Panthers got to play in (and win!) the 50th Anniversary Super Bowl, and  Jerry's prediction can finally come true-- ten years later.

    Just remember the age--old cliche-- don't count your chickens before they hatch.  We've got a ways to go.   Hey.  I remember my past blogs.   (HA HA)    
  • The Highs and Lows of 4--0 --- in which I said that the supreme test of our season would be the next four games against the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, and Packers (we ran the table) 
  • Smooth Sailing--- in which I said that after the Seahawks win, the Panthers' road to the playoffs would be easy from here on out--- as long as they didn't know it.
     I still maintain all of the things that I said in both of those (and all my other) blogs.  I'm just saying that ALL of these things are --dependent-- on us playing up to our potential.    We also have to avoid late season injuries and mistakes.    We can keep up this momentum and maintain our advantage.  But as they say, you still have to PLAY the game.

     Right now-- I'm a fan who's wishing that he might have took the Vegas odds in August and bet on the Panthers to go to the Super Bowl.   Hindsight is 20/20.    But just because we are on the bandwagon and it's playing our tune-- we've still got some serious games to play over the next couple of months.

     Let's hope we defy history and become one of those 38% that didn't let down but took it to the max and went all the way.

Sunday, November 8, 2015


   Hey-- I've got Papa John's pizza On--the--Way and gametime is in about 20 minutes.

Panthers Pizza Promo
   What more could I want?   well--- a WIN  against the Packers would do just fine.

    FoxSports analyst Terry Bradshaw was asked if he thought the Panthers could make a run into the playoffs, and he answered, "No, I don't think so".---well-- that's what he's paid to do.  Give opinions.  Whether they're good ones --- or NOT.
Pizza & More Pizza!
            The media has also tried to paint ONE or TWO players as the stars or cornerstones of the team.   Of course, QB Cam Newton on offense.   On defense, first it was LB Luke Kuechly.   Now it's  CB Josh Norman.   Later, it might be somebody else.  

      The bottom line is-- whether on offense or defense, the Panthers are a TEAM.    Sure, on a given day, someone may rise above the crowd and have a great game.   There will be standouts.   But their mindset is that everyone contributes and everyone is important to the team.

(sorta kinda)

    I decided that it might be fun to write a running summary of the game.   NOT that anyone is going to be reading THIS during the football game (HA!)
       The Panthers got the ball first, went down the field, and I thought they would score. Well-- they did score, but  NOT a touchdown.  We just let the Packers move the ball down the field, and then score on a really flaky pass play.   It's NOW the end of the first quarter, and it's 7--3 Packers.   We are looking pretty good on both sides of the ball, but we've gotta do better than THIS.  On a couple of occasions, the Panthers defensive players had their hands on the Packers quarterback or runner and let them get away.   We have to wrap them up.   Like a package.

     Good News!--- at the beginning of 2nd quarter, the Panthers got a clutch catch on a 3rd--and--16 play by WR Jerricho Cotchery and then Cam hurdled into the end zone to make it  10--7.   After holding the Packers, the Panthers got a 52--yard pass play from Cam Newton to rookie WR Devin Funchess and then capped it off with a 7--yard TD pass to TE Greg Olsen, (which was the 500th pass reception of his career) to make it 17--7.

    After a field goal and a missed field goal, the Panthers got the ball back in the last minute of the half and Newton connected on a long touchdown pass to WR Corey Brown to make the score 27--7 at the half.   Wow!   Looks like most of the pundits and predictors (including myself) will have to reevaluate the situation.    I got the TEAM right but I had it being a LOT closer.

    HAPPY @ the HALF---  It's amazing to me, NOT that the Panthers are playing well, but that they seem to be forcing the Packers into playing so poorly.   I haven't seen the first half stats, but if the rest of the game is like this, the Panthers are going to NOT only out--score the Packers, but out--perform them in almost ALL categories-- first downs, overall yards, running and passing.  They are dominating the game on both sides--- offense and defense.  And the Panthers are even out--doing the Packers on special teams.

       Early in the second half, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers hit a perfect pass over a Panthers defensive back to WR Randall Cobb for a long, touchdown pass to close the score gap to 13 points at 27--14.   The Panthers immediately went 3--and--out.   They are looking listless and lethargic after playing almost a perfect first half.

    Hold that thought.  The Panthers just sacked Rodgers twice in a row-- the second one was called back on a penalty, but they still held the Packers and forced them to punt the ball on fourth down.   Let's see if the Panthers can restore their "mojo" of the first half.   I'd hate to see them pull another meltdown like they did in the Colts game and make this game a close one.  At halftime, it appeared to me-- and probably almost everyone else--- that this game was over.

     I've heard a lot of talk about "all the Panthers have is Newton and Olsen" on offense, and at times, I've been tempted to believe them, especially when receivers like Corey Brown  and  Devin Funchess and Ted Ginn Jr. drop passes that are right in their hands.   Yes--- Greg Olsen has played well-- and today again-- but Brown and Funchess both caught incredible passes today, and are coming into their own.  And WR Jerricho Cotchery caught a great pass today.   Newton often goes to Olsen as his favorite target, but I don't think it's a one--man receiving operation by any stretch of the imagination.

Win-- Win-- OR-- Win :  We're a Team
     They also say that the Panthers defense revolves around Luke Kuechly.  I think he would be one of the first to tell you, this is a TEAM defense.   He and Josh Norman may be a couple of the leaders, but everyone is contributing to this season's success story.

    The Panthers answered the call-- and the Packers score--- in the third quarter, by marching down the field to the four--yard line, but had to settle for a field goal when Newton misfired on what looked like an easy touchdown pass to Cotchery.   Still--- we look safe at 30--14.   Ya know-- the Panthers have already scored the points that I predicted-- 30-- but they may need more before it's over.

     Carolina kept Green Bay in check for several minutes, until the Panthers got another break with a 34--yard pass interference penalty call that took the ball to the Packers 15--yard line.  Two plays later, Newton hit Funchess with a 14--yard touchdown pass to give the Panthers a 37--14 cushion with just about 9 minutes left in the game.   Panthers fans can all breath a collective sigh now.   I do think it's pretty much over now.

     Uh--ohh!   Green Bay put the ball in the end zone on a short drive.  A couple of plays-- and poof--   eek!   I still feel like we're safe.   A 23--point cushion has become 15 (with a touchdown PLUS a two--point conversion).  But the clock has also ticked off a few minutes in the process.  Keep on clicking, clock---let's get this thing over. 

Cardiac Cats Do It Again !
     Folks--- I thought my blog was over for the day.  With another quick touchdown, the game got close at  37--29 and then the Panthers did something I find just mind--blowing.  Cam Newton threw a sideline pass which was intercepted by Green Bay deep in Panthers territory.  

    The Packers now have the ball at the two--minute warning at the Panthers five--yard line, but it is now 4th--and--goal.   A do--or--die situation. Wow !!  Thomas Davis  intercepts (see picture) inside the five--yard line to save the game !  Another hard--to--believe ending to an up--and--down " fairy tale & nightmare" type of game !


     We NEVER had to get to this point. 

 I cannot believe that we've allowed this to happen two weeks in a row.  We will win this game, we will be an unbelievable 8--0, and yes-- it will be unbelievable-- we just don't seem like an undefeated team, the way that we seem invincible, and then tend to squander big leads and try to give games away in the last few minutes.

Nov 15
Carolina Panthers
Tennessee Titans

Don't forget-- to take 

"Will The Panthers Go to the Super Bowl this Year?"