For the fourth time in the last five seasons, the Panthers will close out the season against the division rival Saints, and the only thing on the line for either club is to finish on a positive note. Carolina desperately wants to surpass last year’s win total while New Orleans, disappointed that they will miss the postseason for the first time since 2008, is looking to go 8-8.
Defense has not been a trademark of the 2012 Raiders, having given up 402 points in 14 games, so it will be no surprise if they add to that inflated number this weekend. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Richard Seymour has somehow stayed on the active roster all season, despite missing the last six contests, and he will be out again when his team tries to slow down the recharged Panthers.
The Panthers are playing the way many expected them to early in the season so one might say it is better late than never. If fans thought their team played a well rounded game against the Falcons last weekend, the whooping they put on the Chargers on Sunday was as good, if not better.
So what if Cam Newton was the leading rusher – again? Who cares if special teams was a disaster – again? The Panthers did what they were supposed to and that was hand the Eagles their seventh straight loss and keep some hope alive to at least reach last year’s win total.
In any other season it might have been a good game but when the Panthers and Eagles square off Monday night the only people that might be interested in turning on their televisions are those in the Philadelphia and Charlotte markets. That’s provided they haven’t already lost interest in their home teams.
You have to hand it to the Panthers for figuring out who is to blame for their latest defeat. It wasn’t the offense for failing to get a first down late in the game and it surely wasn’t the fault of the defense that could not stop the Buccaneers not once but three straight times late in the game. That honor went to Justin Medlock, who had the unmitigated gall to miss a field goal with 2:42 left – in the FIRST half.
Cam Newton may have caught a break when he faces the Broncos this Sunday as starting cornerback Tracy Porter will miss his fourth straight game due to an illness. The Panthers may have to open up the playbook to keep pace with Denver QB Peyton Manning and Newton could take advantage of Porter’s absence.
Despite their win over the Redskins, the Panthers took their lumps last Sunday which included kick return specialist Kealoha Pilares being lost for the season. Once again it is next man up and this time it is David Gettis who will see his first regular season action since 2010.
There is a big difference in the Panthers’ defense that opened the season and what they look like now. While injuries have played a role in the roster shuffle, Greg Hardy has emerged as a threat to be one of the finest sack masters in the game.
The Carolina Panthers flashed back to a year ago to do something had not done in 2012 and that was put together a complete game from start to finish. The Washington Redskins were flat and Ron Rivera’s team took advantage at every opportunity to pick up just their second win in eight tries.