Thursday, October 29, 2015



    There's been quite a few prestigious defensive sack leaders to pass through the Carolina Panthers over the years who made their marks on the NFL. 

Kawann Short
    Since last year, Greg Hardy was released and Charles Johnson was injured.  The Panthers have been known to have a motto called "Next Man Up" which indicates the ability of prior backup or unknown players to rise to the occasion and help the team in times of difficulty.

  This year, one of those players has definitely been DT Kawann Short.   He has come on really strong in the last couple of big games against Seattle and Philadelphia, registering five sacks in those two games and earning the NFL's Defensive Player of the Month award for October.

    The third--year player from Purdue becomes the second consecutive Panther player to win the award, with CB Josh Norman winning the September award after returning two interceptions for touchdowns.

    Okay-- this is pretty amazing-- but can we make it three?  I'm thinking maybe-- Luke Kuechly?


     Whenever I first looked at the Panthers 2015 schedule, I saw two things that stood out or struck me rather interesting.   One I've already mentioned-- the four--game stretch with the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts & Packers.  We are halfway through that tough road and have scored an A+ by going 2--0 against Seattle and Philly.  I think we will win at least one of the two games left before the midway point of the season.  I'm predicting 8--0, but with the Packers being the top--rated team in the NFL right now, I'd also be happy with 7--1.

    The other striking thing about the Panthers schedule this year was that they would be facing three out of four games in December against their division foes Atlanta and New Orleans.


    In 2013, the Panthers were 10--4 and still had to win their last two games at home against the Saints (in the rain-- I was there) and the Falcons to win the NFC South and win a first round bye in the playoffs.   Last year, Carolina wasn't nearly as good, losing six games straight and going 3-8-1 before having to win their final four games, including the closer at Atlanta to barely squeak out the division title again and get a home playoff game.


Here's Hopin' !
     It would seem to the casual observer that the Panthers are doing great this year.  My gosh-- they are undefeated-- for crying out loud !   Even I wrote the blog just a couple of weeks ago entitled "Smooth Sailing", speaking of an easy trip to the playoffs for the Panthers elite.  But no matter how excited we may get, or how often we repeat the mantra of "Undefeated"-- the fact of the situation is that even at 6--0, we sit precariously atop the NFC South, only a half game ahead of the Falcons, who lurk in our shadows at 6--1. 

    If you look over the Falcons & Panthers schedules, you see that Atlanta has only one other opponent with a winning record--the Vikings.  Other than that, only the Panthers seem an indomitable foe.  A possible exception may be the last game against the New Orleans Saints, who already beat Atlanta just a couple of weeks ago.   The rest of the Panthers schedule also seems lightweight, with the exception of perhaps Dallas and our divisional rivals.


    As any loyal, respectable Panthers fan would, I have a deep-seated hope that the Falcons will completely lose their composure and go on a long season--ending losing streak.   I'm just not sure whether Atlanta's team will cooperate so willingly.   It appears more likely that they will continue to stalk us, either tied or close behind in the NFC South divisional race, for the rest of the season. 

Carolina Panthers
Atlanta Falcons
    It just doesn't seem fair.  A mediocre record last year was enough to squeak out our division title & a playoff berth.  But this year, we stand undefeated almost halfway through the season, & yet we cannot legitimately claim anything yet.  We are one of five teams in the NFL who are undefeated. Yet, when you look at the other teams & their divisions, they are all 2--3 games ahead of the second place team.  No such luck this year in the NFC South.  We are much better this year-- but so is Atlanta.   

    Having a great year doesn't mean as much if we end up blowing our slim division lead and perhaps becoming a Wild Card team behind our rival Falcons.  Last year, the Panthers won the division by just 1/2 game ahead of the Saints, and 1 1/2 games ahead of the Falcons. Unbelievable as it may seem, it could be just as close this season.

   { DECEMBER 13 & 27 }
            It's a very real possibility that by December 13 & 27 (yes-- we play the Falcons twice in three weeks!), we could be tied or one game apart in the divisional standings.  Barring a complete breakdown by either team, the Panthers and Falcons could be either 9--3 or 10--2.   If we're extremely good AND lucky, we could even be 11-1.  But one thing's almost for sure-- the Falcons will be waiting, looming on the horizon, eagerly awaiting our final showdowns.
     Let's hope that those two games with the Falcons don't mean as much as they appear they could right now.  

    But if it comes down to a die--or--die matchup, let's also hope that we are ready.



    The Carolina Panthers hiked their record to a perfect 6--0 for the first time in franchise history this past Sunday by trouncing the Philadelphia Eagles, 27--16.   Even though QB Cam Newton suffered three interceptions (two on balls tipped by Panthers receivers), the Panthers defense held the Eagles to two field goals off these turnovers, sacked the Eagles quarterback five times, and also held them scoreless in the fourth quarter.  The consistent Panthers offense scored in every quarter, ran for over 200 yards, and averaged an amazing 6.8 yards per play.

    A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled "Surprising Stat"-- in which I told about the phenomenal Carolina Panthers defense achieving the #1 position in the NFL Stats for lowest number of points allowed.  At that time, they were allowing about 18 points per game.  Their stat is still around that figure-- but now, the Green Bay Packers have taken over that #1 spot, allowing about 17 points per game.  

Who'd-a Thunk It?--Not Me!
     It is no secret that we play these Packers in another week. As I previously mentioned, it is possible that we will meet Green Bay with both teams being 7-0-- which is a very rare oddity in the NFL.  Oddly enough, Green Bay will meet Denver this weekend, with both teams at 6--0, and will have to beat the Broncos to get to 7--0.   We meet the 3--4 Indianapolis Colts on Monday night. It would appear that we have the easier game.  But the Panthers are NOT taking the Colts lightly, as they won the AFC South last year and are leading their division now. 

Panthers #1 in Rushing
    This week's blog is entitled "Surprising Stat-- Part Two"--- because lo and behold, the Panthers offense is leading the NFL-- yes #1 this week in an offensive stat --- rushing yards per game. The Panthers ran for over 200 yards in the Eagles game, and are now averaging an amazing 145 yards per game, and 6.2 yards per carry.  And this week, the running game was NOT led by #1-- the rushing was spread out among three players--- RB Jonathan Stewart,  FB Mike Tolbert, and QB Cam Newton.  Even WR Ted Ginn, Jr. contributed this week with a 43--yard end--around run that set up a touchdown.

Stewart & Tolbert
     Tolbert gave the Panthers a two--touchdown cushion at 21--6 when he scored in the third quarter on a phenomenal two--yard pass play in which he literally carried four Eagles defenders with him into the end zone. analyst Mike Craft compared this play to the equally amazing four--yard touchdown run by DeShaun Foster in the NFC Championship game in January 2004 vs. the Eagles that sent the Panthers to the Super Bowl.

One Game at a TIme
     Perhaps another interesting (and surprising) stat is that there is only ONE  Panthers player who is in any Top Five category in the NFL--- that would be CB Josh Norman, who is tied at #1 with four interceptions.   The Panthers defense is rated #9 in Total Defense, allowing about 339 yards per game.  The best defensive stat is one that is neither computed nor recognized, and that is allowing fewest points when it really counts.  The defense seems to bend but not break, and always seems to stop the opposing team at crucial points in the game.

     It is only natural that a team in our position (undefeated at 6--0) would be tempted to look ahead to a huge game like the Packers next week, but I don't think that Coach Ron Rivera and the Panthers team will do that.   They've been emphasizing the "one game at a time" approach ever since he came to Charlotte.    And I believe that he and the other coaches and veteran players on this team will "keep pounding" that message into everyone's heads.

      I think that we will probably lose a game (or two) this year, but it will NOT be this week, or next. I'm going out on a big limb this time & predicting that the Panthers will beat BOTH the Colts & the Packers, and go to  a perfect 8--0 at the midway point of the season.

     This past week was miserable, waiting an incredibly tough 14 days between games.  This week is almost as bad, as we have to wait eight days until Monday night's game.   Getting to Sunday and NOT having a Panthers game is like a kid going to a front door and NOT getting any Halloween candy !

           Next Game : Carolina Panthers vs. Indianapolis Colts
Monday Night Football -- Nov. 2nd

Saturday, October 24, 2015


    Carolina Panthers quarterbacks.  We've had a bunch of 'em over the years.  

   Some were just plain 'ole flops--like Jimmy Clausen.  

   Some sparkled, but were in the twilight of their careers-- Frank Reich. Steve Beuerlein.  Rodney Peete.  and  Vinny Testaverde.

   Others were promising, but let us down-- Kerry Collins.  Chris Weinke. 

   There's Jake Delhomme.  Jake is a whole different story. For probably the first time in the Panthers' 20-year history, someone emerged as a real leader.  Someone with raw skills and abilities, but also leadership and charisma.  And yet-- still-- in the end, Jake was Jake.  He was great on some days, and mediocre on others.  He threaded the needle on one Sunday, and threw five interceptions other Sundays.   He led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in '03, but then personally committed six turnovers in an embarrassing playoff loss to Arizona in '08.

  And then there's CAM NEWTON.  Cam is a beast of an athlete.. at 6'5" and 245 lbs., he is fast enough to evade tacklers, and strong enough to run over them.  After being our first round draft choice in 2011, he has put together five solid seasons as our team leader.  He has broken numerous passing and rushing records.  But even with Cam, I've had my doubts.  Last season, playing the Seattle Seahawks in a divisional playoff game that could have propelled the Panthers into the Super Bowl, Cam drove our team down the field, threatening to score and make a tough game close. But focusing in on a receiver, the defensive back read him and jumped out to make an interception and run it back for a decisive touchdown.  I'm glad at that point, the Panthers staff did NOT give up on Cam Newton.  I'm glad that somehow they weren't thinking the same thoughts as I was at the time.  I was ready to call it quits on another Carolina Panthers quarterback.  Haul him off-- release him-- and go out spelunking for another one.

   Cam has come out this year in an entirely different mindset.  Carolina players and coaches believe that besides his obvious maturity and growth over the last five years, WR Kelvin Benjamin's injury during training camp has affected him in a positive (yes, good) way.  He has been forced to NOT be a go-to-one-man kind of a quarterback.  He's reading defenses better, and spreading the ball out over more receivers.  During the final drive in the last two minutes this past week against the Seahawks, Newton completed a perfect 6-of-6 passes to six different receivers !  This obviously kept the Seahawks secondary guessing, and might have helped TE Greg Olsen get open for a game-winning touchdown.

   Just how good is Cam Newton?  And is he able to lead us to the "Promised Land"-- the Super Bowl ?   Well-- no one really knows for sure.  There are plenty of great quarterbacks who never won the big one, including Fran Tarkenton of the Vikings, and Dan Marino of the Dolphins.   But I believe that Cam has the raw skills to get it done, and he definitely is only getting better.

   I wouldn't say that Cam is a Tom Brady or a Peyton Manning --just yet. He may never pass as well as a Johnny Unitas or be as great a leader as Joe Montana.  But he's a great one.. and getting better.  And can he take us to the Super Bowl?  Absolutely. Is he Superman?  Maybe--maybe not.  But-- one things certain-- he's good enough.

   What's even better than that ?  The Panthers are looking good enough too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


    Shhh!  I've got a big secret  --but don't let it out.  (Remember- it's our secret, just between us!)    If you promise (double fingers crossed)  not to tell, I'll let you in on it.

    OKAY-- here it is..  After the Panthers' monumental win over the Seahawks, their road to the playoffs will be SMOOTH SAILING from here on out.

    Many of you may disagree. ALL of the Panthers' coaches and players would tell you I'm nuts.   And many of the sports writers and TV analysts would laugh in my face.  But it's true. Sunday was a TEST.  Kinda like the Emergency Broadcast System or an Algebra final.  It was to find out if we knew our stuff.   To check and see if we were up to the task.

    Hey--the Panthers passed the test.  In fact, they passed with flying colors.  Give them an A+ ~! The only thing is-- they will NOT get their final grade until the end of the season.


     "Are you crazy?" you may say.  Well-- maybe.  But there is a bit of method to my madness. The four-game stretch with the Seahawks/ Eagles/ Colts/ Packers looked like an unsurmountable obstacle in the Panthers' path.  But now that we've knocked off Seattle, the next three of these tough games are at Home in Bank of America Stadium.

    Carolina is still undefeated at 5--0 for the second time in franchise history, having also won their first five games in 2003 when the Panthers went 11--5 and went to the Super Bowl.

NFC South Standings
    It's a very strong possibility now that when we meet the Packers in three weeks, we both will be undefeated at 7-0.  It will most likely be a media frenzy.   It will be The Game that everyone will focus on the entire week.   And rightly so.   Most sports analysts have rated the Packers the Top Team in the NFL.  In the Power Rankings, they are #1 and the Panthers are #4.  But more than a spectacle, that game will be another TEST.  The only thing is-- as the season gets longer, each test we face will NOT only be scored on wins & losses, but in our character and how we bounce back.  And just as I said that a loss to Seattle wouldn't have ruined our season, neither will the Packers game. It will just show us once again what we are made of, and if we've got what it takes.

Panthers Prognostication
 After the Green Bay game, the only thing that stands between us and the playoffs are three games in December against division foes Atlanta and New Orleans.   If I know this team like I think that I do, by that time, we will be riding so high that no one will be able to defeat us, and if they do, it won't really matter, at least not in the big picture.   I predicted before the season that we would be 11-5 this year.  I'm going to go out on a limb and say that I was wrong.  I think the Panthers will be at least 13-3, win the NFC South for a record third straight year, and head into the playoffs as the Top or 2nd seed in the NFC.

    Like I said before-- there is a key to all of this working out according to plan. This little bit of genius that I've shared with you is meant to stay between you and me.   The Panthers team must NOT find out that they have crossed over the top of the mountain and the rest of their season will now be downhill.   They must continue to approach the rest of the year just as they've done up until now.  They must work even longer.  They must struggle even harder.

   Because you see-- my prediction is solely based on our Panthers NOT believing it's true.  If they begin to think for one minute that the rest of the NFL is going to lie down and let them roll over them, then my whole argument loses its weight. 


    I'll tell you-- I was a doubter.  I wondered if they could do it.   I felt strongly that if our team were to fall to Seattle, it might result in an avalanche in which our whole season might tumble off of a cliff into the ravine.   And even on Sunday, it wasn't until the fourth quarter that I really began to believe again.  One of my friends shared that he sorta lost hope when the team fell behind 20--7.  I must admit that I was despondent too, with my proverbial "tail-between-my-legs".  I was drowning my sorrows with a cup of sweet tea. (HA!)

    I admit to you that the Panthers did NOT look like much the first three quarters of the game. It seemed like "old hat"-- the same predictable start slow, make a run, and then stumble late in the game.   But somehow we metamorphed into a totally different animal in the last few minutes of the game.  Coaches made calls.   Players made plays.  We got some breaks. Everything seemed to gel for us.

Greg Olsen Celebrates
TE Greg Olsen
    One statistic that makes this clear is QB Cam Newton's passing.  In the first three quarters, he was 8 for 21 with two interceptions.  Down the stretch, he was an amazing 12 for 15 and a touchdown.

   And what a touchdown it was! 

    With about nine minutes left in the third quarter, Seattle scored to make it 20--7.  Things were beginning to look bleak.  The fact that there was plenty of time left in the game didn't really help my outlook.  I just looked at it as more opportunities for Seattle to pour it on.  It looked like it could be a blowout.   But then things suddenly changed.

    RB Jonathan Stewart scored on two one-yard runs, first near the end of the third quarter, and the second with about four minutes to go in the game.   Even so, the Seahawks added a field goal, and it was 23--20 with only 2:20 left on the clock when the Panthers took over for the last time on their own 20 yard line.  For the second time in a row, Carolina marched down the field, this time with Newton completing a perfect 6-for-6 passes, amazingly going to six different receivers (Stewart, Ginn, Dickson, Funchess, Cotchery and Olsen).  

    The final play on the drive was the 26-yard touchdown pass scored with only 32 ticks on the scoreboard clock.   TE Greg Olsen was wide open on the play, and he joked that it was pulled out of their playbook.   It actually was a broken play, with two Seattle defensive backs getting mixed signals and neither covering the receiver.   Hey-- we'll take it.   Even though he wasn't covered, Olsen still had to catch the ball, and it was a perfect throw by Newton.


    I invited my pastor to watch the game with me on a Big Screen at one of our favorite local restaurants.  He brought three of his kids with him.   I forewarned him on the last Panthers drive that if they made a big play or scored, I would react somewhat out of control.   He assured me that he and his kids could handle it.  And they did.  Whenever Olsen caught that pass, I started howling and screaming, and I don't think that I stopped for two or three minutes.

     It was a great experience-- one that I will probably never forget 
---or at least not for awhile.     ______________________________________________________________________


QB Cam Newton     RB Jonathan Stewart     TE Greg Olsen      LB Luke Keuchly

Newton finished 20-for-36 for 269 yard with The Touchdown and two interceptions.  Stewart had 78 rushing yards on 20 carries and Olsen finished with seven catches for 131 yards.   Kuechly led the Panthers defense with 14 tackles in his first start since leaving in the first game with a concussion.


    Panthers coach Ron Rivera said, "This was one of the bigger victories we've had since I've been here."   Duh !    No Kidding  

NEXT: Carolina Panthers vs Philadelphia Eagles
Sunday, October 25 @ 8:30 PM EDT

Saturday, October 17, 2015



   This-- in the strictest mathematical sense of the word-- is not a CRITICAL game for the Panthers.   Seattle's NOT a divisional opponent.   Almost everyone-- including most football analysts with ESPN, FoxSports, and the NFL Network, believe that Seattle will win the game, especially because it's being played on the Seahawks home field.   Even if we lose, we will still be TIED (at 4-1) for the NFC South division lead with the Atlanta Falcons.

  Having said THAT, this is still a HUGE game for the Carolina Panthers.  Why?  Because Seattle is one of our toughest rivals.   Because they beat us last year in the divisional playoffs and kept us from advancing to the NFC Championship game and the Super Bowl. And because the Seahawks have won the last five matchups and lead the Carolina-Seattle series 7-2 since 2000.

  No-- a loss won't kill our season.  But a WIN will catapault our already sky-high momentum into the statosphere.  The Seahawks game marks perhaps the most difficult opponent in a four-game stretch of difficult games,  in which the other three games will be at home.  Seattle-- Philadelphia-- Indianapolis-- Green Bay.   If we manage a better than passing grade against this opposition, the rest of the season will seem like a cakewalk in comparison.   Only a Thanksgiving game against the Cowboys and three more division games against the Falcons/Saints stand in our way to a third straight NFC South title and a top spot in the playoffs.

  SO-- not critical-- but Huge.  Get out of the way, Seahawks.  Here comes the Panthers locomotive.   Super Bowl-- here we come!


    As I look forward to Sunday's game with the Seattle Seahawks, I was surprised to find an interesting (and surprising) statistic about this year's Panthers team.


   The Panthers have scored 108 points, and given up 71, over four games.  The most surprising stat is that the Panthers defense LEADS the LEAGUE in points allowed, giving up just 17.75 points per game.  Although I already thought the Panthers defense was playing well, I did not know they were playing THAT well.   Fact is-- the Panthers "D" has been keeping the team in the game, until the offense revs up and finishes games off.  And in some cases, the Panthers defense has actually -won- games for us.  In particular, I'm referring to turnovers, and specifically two interception returns for touchdowns by CB Josh Norman.

   I'm also a little surprised that we are 4-0-- not shocked, but surprised.  Before any of you Panthers fan jump on me for being less than loyal, I believe we are good enough to be undefeated.  But in some cases... just good enough.  you've probably heard that any team can beat any other team on any given day.  And a couple of the Panthers' wins could have gone the other way, if it were not for a few opportunistic plays just at the right time.

   Our offense needs to catch up with our defense.  The Panthers will always be a defense oriented team.   This goes all the way back to LB Sam Mills and the "Keep on Pounding" theme.   On offense, I'm wondering if the Panthers receivers can make up for the loss of WR Kelvin Benjamin (out with an ACL knee injury) this year.  I certainly hope so.  I really want to believe they can.  But I'm not sure.   They really need to step up if we are to continue this streak and be effective later in the year.

   The time of the season that I've been talking about ever since before the season began has finally come.  This will be the supreme test.   Can the Panthers conceivably be 8--0 after the NEXT four games?   Probably not.   Only in a fairy tale "and-they-lived-happily-ever-after" scenario.   If they do, I will be all-in for a Panthers Super Bowl run, similar to the 1996 and 2003 Panthers. But even if our team is 7-1 or 6-2 on Nov. 9, I will be a proud, happy camper.  If they end up  5-3 (or -God forbid- 4-4), they we may be facing some severe problems during the second half of the season.

   Twp positive notes about returning players :  this game will be highlighted by the much anticipated return of defensive leader LB Luke Kuechly, who has been sidelined three games with a concussion.   At the end of this four-game stretch, the Panthers are projected to have star defensive player DE Charles Johnson back after a severe hamstring injury that has sidelined him since the first game.   That will significantly improve an already superb Panthers defense.

   NFL Network anal-ysts Phil Simms and Michael Irvin unanimously picked the Seahawks to give the Panthers their first defeat of the season.  I sincerely hope they eat those words. I've been watching the Panthers TV shows and following their website, and the players seem both confident and unified in their desire to end the Seahawks domination of their team.  Seattle is 7-2 since 2000 (including an NFC Championship game and last year's divisional playoff), and has won five games in a row since 2010.  It is time for a change. We will all find out whether that change will come on Sunday.

While you're HERE, look Right and participate in my Panthers' Poll
Predict the final Panthers regular season Record
I predict an 11-5 Panthers Season and 3-Peat as NFC South Champions

4:25 EDT on FOXSports

Sunday, October 4, 2015

The Highs and Lows of 4--and--0

     HIGH  After just a little over four minutes in the game, the Carolina Panthers had forced two turnovers, including another Josh Norman interception return for a touchdown, and had a quick 10-0 lead.   This was a refreshing contrast to past games, in which the Panthers usually fell behind early and came back in dramatic fashion to win the games.

     HIGH  Having a perfect, undefeated 4-0 record is a luxury only had once before by the Panthers.  That was the start of the 2003 season, one in which they went all the way to the Super Bowl.

     LOW  The rest of today's game wasn't quite so perfect, as the Bucs came back within a touchdown twice, before the Panthers finally went up by three touchdowns and held on to win, 37-23.

     HIGH  The Panthers forced five Tampa Bay turnovers, including four interceptions.

     LOW  Amazingly, the Bucs outgained the Panthers with over 400 total yards to just 244 for Carolina.  Carolina won the game based upon field position and big plays, mostly on the five Tampa Bay turnovers.   

     HIGHS  Panthers QB Cam Newton put in another fine game, throwing for two touchdowns to WR Ted GInn,Jr. and running for another score.  RB Jonathan Stewart rushed 50 yards on 10 carries, averaging an impressive 5.0 yards.  

     HIGH & LOW  Next week is the BYE week for the Panthers, so there are TWO whole weeks for fans, analysts, and scoffers to whoop, holler, and belly ache about either how great is the achievement of a perfect 4-0 record, or how superficial it is.   Most of the naysayers will point out the weaknesses of the four teams that Carolina has beaten.

     HIGH or LOW  While still a believer in the team, I am one who would exercise caution in predicting just how long this winning streak will continue.   We will definitely need these next two weeks to prepare for our next opponent, and those that follow will not be any easier.   The next four weeks could spell doom for our season, or perhaps usher in a door of opportunity.  It will be the supreme test of our season.  Outside of perhaps Dallas and Atlanta, these next four opponents (Seattle, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, and Green Bay) will determine just how good (or bad) we are as a team.

     HIGH & LOW  After this tough four-game stint, we have two mediocre opponents, Tennessee and Washington, before going to Dallas on Thanksgiving Day to play the Cowboys.  Then we finish out the season by playing away from home four out of six games.   These include home-and-away games against Atlanta (who is also undefeated--and tied with us for the division lead).  These two games could be crucial to win our division--unless we keep winning and Atlanta hits a downturn.

     In summary, I'm ecstatic for the Panthers to be 4-0 and undefeated at this stage of the season.  We have normally started slow in the past.  It's great to be up and confident.  However, the most difficult part of the season is in front of us, not behind us, and we will know more about our team at the end of November than we do now.

     No one expects the Panthers' undefeated status to continue for very long, just as none of us really expected them to be 4-0 at this point.  For it to even reach one more game, the Panthers have to be much more consistent offensively against the Seattle Seahawks. Amazingly the Seahawks, usually one of the top-rated defenses, is ranked 30th among 32 teams.   Don't expect them to play like it when they face us, though.

     My PREDICTION for the SEATTLE SEAHAWKS game?  WELL... I'm NOT gonna be the first (or last) to predict the Panthers falling from their undefeated pedestal.  I do NOT think this will be an easy game for us, but I'm going to predict that we pull it out, maybe in the last minute of the game.   SCORE?  Panthers 27, Seahawks 24.

     Before you go, please LOOK in the far right column and take our Panthers Poll.  Just click on your prediction for the final regular season record.  My prediction ?  11-5.  Yeah, I know-- very optimistic.  But... that was Carolina's record during their 2003 Super Bowl year.   Here's hoping...

     Looking forward to the ride.  It could be rocky.  Might be a roller coaster.  But I'm still up for it.   Buckle your seat belt and let's go!