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.

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