By Ted Fleming
You might want to excuse Barack Obama and Mitt Romney if they want to take about three hours off from their last minute campaigning on Sunday to tune into a particular football game. It is quite possible the President leans toward the Chicago Bears, and Mr. Romney having the Patriots as one of his favorites, but the game at FedEx Field in Landover MD could be one of the more watched games despite both teams combining for a 4-11 record.
You see, the final home game for the Washington Redskins before a presidential election has become a near-perfect predictor of who will be sworn in on the steps of the Capitol next January. It is called the Redskins Rule – if they win at home the incumbent gets another term, but if the visiting team comes out victorious the other party takes over the White House. It has happened 17 of 18 times, the only exception being 2004 when the ‘Skins lost but George W. Bush got a second term as President.
What that means is that the Panthers have made the State of Carolina the only swing state of record and what they do on Sunday could make Tuesday irrelevant. But that is still no reason not to vote anyway.
The Panthers-Redskins feature the last two Heisman Trophy Winners and if all things were equal it would be a highly anticipated game, the election connection notwithstanding. The records of both squads has diminished interest nationally but in each city there is much to root for, Carolina hoping to get off a four game slide and Washington wanting to get one step closer to .500 with an eye on a playoff run.
Both teams are banged up with three Panthers starters and five Redskins front liners on Friday’s injury list. Washington is a sitting duck through the air as they are dead last in that department entering the game so Carolina’s offense suffered a blow losing Brandon LaFell as the second wideout target for Cam Newton. Louis Murphy will likely move in for LaFell and Kealoha Pilares could see some balls coming his way, however, tight ends Greg Olsen, Gary Barnidge and Ben Hartsock all could become factors.
The much improved defense has serious depth issues with defensive ends Antwan Applewhite and Thomas Keiser probably sitting this one out and DE Frank Alexander and DT Dwan Edwards game time decisions. There will be a lot of shifting around with Andre Neblett, Sione Fua and Jordan Senn seeing a lot of playing time.
The Redskins may be in worse shape because they lost Pierre Garcon, the fifth year receiver who is averaging nearly 20-yards a catch. Santana Moss will get the call as starter and he is a constant threat with five of his 23 receptions going for touchdowns.
Washington did get good news as linebacker London Fletcher is expected to continue his consecutive games played streak – it will be #233 on Sunday – being cleared last week from a strange balance issue but is still nursing a sore hamstring.
The following is the injury report issued on Friday by the National Football League for the Panthers-Redskins game in Landover, MD on Sunday, November 4, 2012:
CAROLINA PANTHERS, 1-6 (** denotes starter):
DE Antwan Applewhite (hamstring), DE Thomas Keiser (elbow), ** WR Brandon LaFell (head)
DE Frank Alexander (knee), DT Dwan Edwards (ankle)
LB Thomas Davis (knee), ** C Geoff Hangartner (knee), TE Ben Hartsock (ankle)
WASHINGTON REDSKINS, 3-5 (** denotes starter):
** WR Pierre Garcon (foot), S Brandon Meriweather (knee)
** LB Perry Riley (hamstring)
** LB London Fletcher (hamstring), CB David Jones (achilles), ** P Saverio Rocca (right knee), ** CB Josh Wilson (shoulder)
FOR REFERENCE –
Out: there is no chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Doubtful: a 25% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Questionable: a 50% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
Probable: a 75% chance the injured player will be medically cleared for the game
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Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.