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!


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