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 riding the kind of natural high associated with their first winning streak of the season, and one player has been instrumental in that success. Thomas Davis has come back from injuries that would have sent others into retirement, and along with his off-field charity and volunteer work, he now has the honor of being the Panthers’ nominee for a very significant award named after an NFL legend.
If the Panthers are to get their third win of the season this may be the weekend to do it even though they will be playing on the road. The Eagles are arguably the worst team in the league and things don’t get any better for them with two of their offensive stars sitting this one out.
Injuries should not play a major part in the final meeting of the year between the Buccaneers and Panthers this Sunday at Bank of American Stadium as only one player is listed as out. However, the Buccaneers have a concern at guard with starter Jamon Meredith hobbled with an ankle injury.
Jeremy Bridges has yet to play a game this season but Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera believes he is exactly the right man to plug at least one hole in a porous offensive line. If the name sounds familiar, Bridges was a member of the Panthers from 2006-08 and if he is good to go, he could slide right in as a starter.
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.
The Panthers are 1-6 but you cannot blame defensive end Dwan Edwards who has been everything – and more – since being picked up before the start of the season. Having already set a personal best in sacks, Edwards is just one behind team leader Charles Johnson in that department.
One team could get their season back on track but the Cowboys have some significant injuries to their offense and special teams. The Panthers are hurting too, but after week off they are focused and ready to go.