By Ted Fleming
There is an old saying that an injured animal is a dangerous one and the Panthers are hurting in just about every way possible. A 0-2 record, by itself, is usually enough to get a team’s dander up, but a spate of injuries have put them into scratch and claw mode against the not so gentle Giants when they come to town on Sunday.
The Giants put a licking on the Panthers a year ago on national television, so that embarrassment is still fresh on the minds of those who played in that game. The question is, how many of them will be healthy enough to see if they can get a measure of revenge? Maybe it should be how many players will be healthy, period?
The secondary is a mess. Carolina just placed safety Charles Godfrey on injured reserve joining DBs Anderson Russell and Haruki Nakamura. The status of CB Josh Thomas for Sunday is unknown because of a concussion. The same applies to DB James Dockery (thumb). Another safety, Quintin Mikell, was carted off the field against the Bills with an apparent right ankle injury. CB Josh Norman missed a number of plays after a teammate clipped him on the right thigh and while he did return to the game, who knows what he felt like in each of the days after.
For the Panthers it is no longer next man up, but can anyone here play this game? New York is having issues of their own and is also winless in two tries so far, but they have a two-time Super Bowl winner in Eli Manning under center. His league-leading seven interceptions notwithstanding, Manning is still a dangerous man with a ball in his hands. He is sure to pick on anyone in the secondary he thinks is vulnerable.
The 0-2 start is not a death sentence for the Panthers although the odds of a postseason berth are long, like 11.6 percent. The Giants did the unimaginable in 2007 by winning the championship, but that is an aberration. Carolina can look to three teams in 2008 – Miami, Minnesota and San Diego – who made the postseason despite a rough start. But can they follow in their footsteps? Recent history says no.
2011: Finished 6-10
2010: Finished 2-14 after a 0-5 start
2009: Finished 8-8 after a 0-3 start
2006: Finished 8-8
Oddly, the Panthers worst season ever came in 2001. They were 1-1 after two games only to finish 1-15.
What all this means is that neither the Giants nor Panthers can go 0-3. New York is in arguably the most competitive division in the NFL, the NFC East, and a 9-7 record could win it leaving everyone else out of the playoff picture. They need a win to stay in the hunt.
Carolina is in a much different situation because Atlanta and New Orleans are the cream of the NFC South with both likely headed to the postseason while leaving little room for them or the Tampa Bay. The Panthers need a win just to stay relevant and not fall into the abyss once again leaving fans to find other things to do on Sunday.
For more Carolina Panthers news and updates, visit Carolina Panthers Central.
Ted Fleming is a freelance writer covering all things Carolina Panthers. His work can be found on Examiner.com.