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Close But No Cigar, Week 5 NFL Recap

By Chris Johnson
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New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

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Another week down, and another similar result for the Carolina Panthers.  After five weeks they sit at 1-4, but they could just as easily be 5-0 right now.  In the four loses the Panthers have only been beaten by a mere 5.5 average points a game.  They have been in every single game they have played but just come up a little short.

So what does this mean for the rest of the Panthers season?  Should we as fans be happy that each game we can walk away with a young team that seems to be improving each week, or should we be disappointed in this season that we can’t complete games and walk away with a W?  Let’s look at their four losses.  Green Bay and New Orleans are shoo-ins for the playoffs.  Chicago is a still a good team, despite the three losses on their record.  Really, Arizona is the only bad team we lost to.  So one could say that the teams we are losing to are teams that should beat us, other than the Cardinals.

What do we make of the Panthers?  We could chastise them and focus on the one or two bad plays or questionable calls a game that have plagued us so far, or we can look at the strides they have made from last year.  It really boils down to whether you are a glass-half-full or a glass-half-empty type of person.  I am looking with the glass-half-full mentality instead of only focusing on the record.  I am looking at Cam Newton’s numbers and his ability to manage a game.  I am looking at the reemergence of Steve Smith, who is second in the NFL in receiving.   I am looking at two running backs who used to be the crown jewel of this offense and are now taking a back seat to the passing game.  Are they complaining about the number of carries they are getting?  No, they are staying in and doing their assignments, and when their number is called making big plays, like DeAngelo Williams’ 69-yard touchdown run on Sunday.  I am looking at not one but two receiving tight ends – something we haven’t been accustomed to since the days of Wesley Walls here in Carolina.  I am looking at a defense that despite losing their heart-and-soul, Thomas Davis and Jon Beason, are still keeping the Panthers in games with guys like James Anderson and Greg Hardy.

 

Sure, there are going to be growing pains and bumps and bruises along the way.  Can anybody seriously say they expect the Panthers to come out and win the Super Bowl or even make the playoffs behind a rookie quarterback and first year head coach? When you bring a new puppy home, do you expect it to be housebroken already? There are the glass-half empty-guys who are still concentrating on the negative of this year’s season thus far.  I ask you, “mister need a refill,” how far did you realistically expect Carolina to go this year?  6-10, 7-9, 8-8?  Which, by the way, looking at the schedule, I can see us still getting another five to six wins.  To the Cam haters who keep waiting on him to fail – what do you have to complain about? In your view he still is 1-4, he still has 6 interceptions this year.  You should have all the evidence you need to trash the guy, right? But instead, there is the resounding argument of his yards and his ability to play the game that stares you dead in the face.  There is the argument that any analyst or anybody having to do with the game of football at all has come out and said this kid is legit – he is the real deal.

 

So, as the saying goes, close is close but no cigar.  But we have much to look forward to this season –things are only going to get better.  Now, let’s look at some notes from everywhere else around the league.

  • Buffalo improved to 4-1 with a win over the Eagles. Buffalo is a team that is making its mark week to week; however, I am still not quite ready to put Buffalo into that upper echelon of teams yet mostly due to this…
  • If they haven’t hit the panic button in Philly yet, now is the time.  You hear announcers from time to time comment on a team saying they refuse to lose.  It seems like Philadelphia refuses to win.
  • Indianapolis came out strong in the first half, building a 24-7 lead for themselves in a game that I thought the Colts could win. Dwayne Bowe with his 128 yards and two touchdowns had different plans as the Colts gave up 21 unanswered points, losing 28-24.
  • “Donovan McNabb, meet Adrian Peterson. Adrian, this is Donovan.” Peterson had three touchdowns in the first quarter, leading the Vikings to a 34-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.  Memo to the Vikings: that Peterson guy – he’s good, keep giving him the ball.
  • Seattle upset the Giants 36-25 in a game that was mostly about defense and field position up until the fourth quarter.  Seattle will move to 2-3 heading into their bye, while New York gets to see the Bills that just upended their buddies in Philly.
  • Pittsburgh handled Tennessee fairly easily 38-17, making it hard to write the Steelers off quite yet – but despite Ben Roethlisberger’s 5 touchdown day I still believe they will struggle at times this year.
  • Andy Dalton and A.J. Green continue to look good as Cincinnati beat Jacksonville 30-20.  The Bengals are actually 3-2 so far – didn’t see that coming.
  • The Raiders, in an emotional game after losing their owner Al Davis, were able to hold off the Texans 25-20.  I have said several times this year that I am on the Raider bandwagon – I think after losing Davis they play even more inspired football for the rest of the season
  • Tampa Bay got absolutely rocked by the San Francisco 49ers 48-3.  This game taught me two things: one, the 49ers are better than I thought they were, and two, the Bucs, despite having a 3-2 record, are not good.
  • San Diego was able to hold on 29-24 against the Denver Broncos.  Today, the Broncos named Timmy Touchdown Tebow their starter.  I don’t know why it took Fox this long to do this, but it seems like a match made in heaven – Tebow enjoys crying after big losses, and Fox enjoys quarterbacks who cry (see Jake Delhomme).  Perfect.
  • The Patriots beat the Jets 30-21.  Tom Brady continues to be impressive with 321 yards and a touchdown.  The Jets seem to be reeling, losing three in a row.  What’s the best cure for that? How about a dose of the Dolphins on Monday night? Now take one of those and call me in the morning.
  • Green Bay stays unblemished after winning 25-14 over Atlanta in the Sunday night game.  The Falcons seemed to have a game plan and be in control early in the game.  However, as the game went on you just had this sense it was only a matter of time before Rodgers took over, and true to form he did.
  • The Detroit Lions took care of business on Monday night in a game that wasn’t as close as the score says.  This one was ugly – there was literally a penalty flag every other play.  I don’t usually say this about Jay Cutler, but I have to hand it to him for some of the passes he was completing – much less getting off.  The Lions had constant pressure on him all night as they took this one 24-13.
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