Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Giant Game

     For some, today's game between the Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants wanes in importance compared to many of the games already played, and a few yet to be played, this season. Our team has already clinched a playoff berth, and won the NFC South division title for the third straight year.   Then there are some others who think today's game is of supreme importance---because we can keep our undefeated season hopes alive.    A victory today will match the Miami Dolphins' 14-0 regular season of 1972.

      Both opinions would be wrong.   Today's game --IS-- important, but NOT because of the possibility of achieving a perfect season.   No--- today's game is all about The Turf.   We are playing for a seldom--discussed, but all--important topic---  Home Field Advantage.   The Panthers already own ONE home playoff game.   But if they win today against the Giants, they could also play the NFC Championship Game in Charlotte.  A huge difference, considering the alternative might be going on the road to Green Bay, Seattle, or Arizona--- all long distances from home.

    And it would be nice if this was a throw--away game for the Giants.   Even though sometimes losing teams play for the pride factor, this game means even more for them.  Though they have a losing record of 6-7, they are locked in a three--way tie for the division lead (and a playoff spot) with the Redskins and Eagles.  And unlike a few other teams, the Giants can ONLY make the playoffs by winning their division. Their record will not justify a wild card spot.

    YES--- today is a Giant Game.

    Let me do some catching up with you.  Over the past four games, the Panthers have raised both heads and eyebrows--- while maintaining a dominating defense ranked 3rd in the NFL, Cam Newton and the energized Panthers offense have also averaged 39 points per game to overtake Arizona and New England as the Highest Scoring team in the league.   The Panthers have scored 411 points this season, while giving up only 243 to opposing teams.  This is an amazing feat, considering the Panthers have ALWAYS been considered a defense--minded kind of a team.   I don't think anything has really changed-- the team still emphasizes defense, but our offense has come into its own this season.    But this is especially amazing, since they have done this without our top receiver, Kelvin Benjamin--- some fans might also mention, without our team's franchise leading rusher, DeAngelo Williams, who went to Pittsburgh in the off season.

    The offense's late surge notwithstanding, let's also NOT forget our defense, who, after giving up 38 points to the Saints, bounced back and registered their first shutout of the season, 38--0, against their arch-rival division opponent  Atlanta Falcons.

    By the way, cheers to Bene Benwikere, Carolina's CB, who started most of the team's games this season, before breaking his leg in the Falcons game.   Here's hoping that we will escape any future major injuries for the rest of the season.   Late--season injuries have always been a "show--stopper" for teams contending for a title.    And here's also hoping the rest of the secondary can step up to help in his absence.

    More after the game today.

Today @ 1pm

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