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 world did not come to an end as the Mayans had predicted, so that is good news for the Panthers as they get to play a downtrodden Raiders team on Sunday to close out their home schedule. After a brutal start to the season, Carolina is one win away from matching their record from a year ago and have a chance to better it with one game remaining on the docket.
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.
The way they have been playing of late the Panthers were probably looking forward to taking on the reeling Chargers. That is, until the Friday injury report put them behind the eight-ball with eight starters on it, three definitely out and possibly two more ready to join them.
You can call him short, stout or thick, but one thing you can’t say about Mike Tolbert is that he is greedy. The Coastal Carolina University standout reportedly left more than $1 million behind in San Diego when he signed with the Panthers as a free agent, and he could be one of the most underrated players on the team.
As a season winds down, you can always count on someone saying, “If the season ended today …..,” but in the Panthers’ case, it would be “If the season STARTED today …..,” as in six weeks ago. Over that span they are 3-3 and coming off a solid win against a division rival while Cam Newton is looking more like he did last year than in the first seven games of 2012.
In a season filled with injuries, the Panthers are very used to saying, “Next man up.” This week is no different as they have to replace their number one back and number two receiver as they host the 11-1 Falcons who are in a lot better shape, physically.
Matt Ryan stirred up a hornet’s nest with some late game comments the first time the Panthers faced the Falcons in Atlanta earlier this season. This weekend Ryan brings his team to Charlotte and there could be more story lines than just an 11-1 team squaring off against one that is 3-9.
Not many people knew what to expect when the Chiefs hosted the Panthers on Sunday, because there was nothing to compare it to, but right from the opening drive there was a sense the home team was about to play their best game of the season. And they did, despite the horrific murder-suicide that took place a little more than 24-hours earlier.