Thursday, October 29, 2015


     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.


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