Sunday, August 2, 2015


   It's been awhile since the last Panthers (or sports) post.  That's NOT to say that I haven't been comtemplating the upcoming season, and reading everything that I could get my hands (or eyes) on about the Carolina Panthers.  Last year's up-and-down rollercoaster season ended on the upswing.  After going 12-4 with a division championship in 2013, the Panthers started with two wins, and fans' fantasies began to conjure up aspirations for another great season.  However, this temporary dream quickly became a nightmare as the Panthers went 1-8-1 over the next ten games, with a six-game losing streak.  

2014 NFC South Standings
    At the start of December, the Panthers stood at 3-8-1, and in third place in the NFC South.  Their chances of any hopes for the playoffs looked dim, as only the lowly Tampa Bay Bucs stood between them and last place.  Then something happened.  A kind of metaphorosis brought a butterfly out of Carolina's cocoon, and the Panthers ran the table over the last four games, going a perfect 4-0.   Even though their mediocre 7-8-1 record was nothing to write home about, three of those last four wins were against division foes, allowing them to squeak by the Saints into first place and make the playoffs.   
   So-- here we stand, going into the 2015 season, having won two straight division titles, where is there to go from here?   Some prognosticators and fans expect an average year for Carolina.  I've seen predictions of 8-8 and 9-7.  One of these was even from an ex-Panther player, DE Mike Rucker.  However, there are others, including most of the Panthers players and staff, who anticipate a third division title and/or playoff spot. Some are even going so far as to predict a Super Bowl.

Panthers DE Mario Addison
  Reserve DE Mario Addison said from Panthers training camp, "They're ain't no limits-- we're going all the way...   I see a Super Bowl.  I feel it, man."  Teammate TE Greg Olsen replied, "Would I be surprised if we did (make the Super Bowl)?  No."   Such sentiments are welcomed by Head Coach Ron Rivera.  However, he added that he didn't want to see these comments in the newspapers.  (That's where this reporter read them!)   Fans may recall that at the beginning of 2012, center Ryan Kalil took out a full-page advertisement in the Charlotte Observer where he told everybody of his prediction that the team would go all the way (and WIN) the Super Bowl.  The Panthers ended up not even making the playoffs.

   Advertised or not, the Panthers' chances look good this year.  They retained 21 out of 22 starters from last year's team, plus adding some valuable players through the draft and free agency.   Some of them include new rookie WR Devin Funchess and the return of speedy WR/PR Ted Ginn, Jr. on offense, as well as new rookie LB Shaq Thompson and veteran DB's Charles TIllman and Chris Houston on defense.   This bumper crop of new talent combines with such all-star veteran Panthers as QB Cam Newton, RB Jonathan Stewart, and LB's Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis.  The Panthers look to be stronger in every area, which prompts a bystander like me to give the team just a better than average chance to make it deep into the playoffs, or maybe go all the way.

Panthers Schedule
   However, lots of things can go wrong during a season.  Already, a valued reserve went down with an injury in training camp.  As I look over the 2015 Panthers schedule, it is anything but a cakewalk.   I see no reason why Carolina cannot go 4-0 or 3-1 over the first four games.  But then, after their BYE week, they hit a potential brick wall, playing four games against playoff teams, including at defending NFC champion Seattle, and then three straight home games against Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay.  These four opponents' combined 2014 records were 45-19.   A tough road to travel.

   My feeling is that if the Panthers get to mid-season with a 5-3 or better record, then their chances are more than optimistic to repeat as a playoff contender.  After this four-game test, the rest of their schedule looks much easier, with the only question marks being a Thanksgiving Day contest at Dallas, and then three games against division foes Atlanta and New Orleans.  They aced NFC South teams in December last year;  that's a good sign, although it's no guarantee this time around.

   Will this be the year that the 1995 Super Bowl promise by owner Jerry Richardson 
finally and belatedly comes to pass?  (see Editor's note--- below) 
We'll have to wait and see. But some, like myself, see a glimmer of hope.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson

   Okay-- buckle your seats, Panthers fans!   Here we go.  We're getting ready for take-off on another exciting Panthers NFL season.  I'm ready... what about you ? 

Editor's Note--- just in case you're a longtime Panthers fan (like myself), and 
actually remember owner Jerry Richardson's original Super Bowl promise in '95, 
yes-- you are right, it was a promise to win the Super Bowl within ten (10) years
The Panthers came close three times, making it to the NFC Championship in 
1996, 2003, and 2005, and one of those years (2003) they appeared in the Super Bowl, 
narrowly losing to the New England Patriots in the closing seconds of the game, 32-29.


Guest Bloggers are Welcome at this Panthers blog and all other sports blog here.  
Just leave us a note, stating your interest.  All published content is subject to the editor's approval.

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