I’m A Worrier: The Carolina Panthers

That’s why my friends call me Whiskers.

I more-or-less think the Seahawks are going to be the best team in football in 2013.  They’re young, talented, hungry, and they enjoyed playoff success as recently as last year.  They also tasted playoff defeat, which may not sound like a good thing (when is it ever?), but I would argue it makes them even hungrier.  Not just the fact that they lost, but the WAY that they lost.  The most notable trait of this team is that it’s led by a smart quarterback with the will to be the best.  I have no concern about the offense.  But, this defense will be the linchpin.  This team goes as far as its defense takes it.  Games like that Atlanta game can’t happen again (in the playoffs).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic.  Yes, I think this team is going to win the Super Bowl, but just because I think what I think doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen.  I tend to think a lot of things.  And I tend to be moronic, short-sighted, and homerific more often than not.  It’s like playing a strategic board game like Chess.  I get so focused on my own plan, I’m blinded to what my opponent is doing, and before I know it, I’ve been king-fucked.  I believe that’s the technical term.  King-fucked.

There are other good teams too.  Right in our own back yard!  The NFC is riddled with quality football teams to the point that I envy good teams in the AFC.  Mostly because there aren’t many, and all of them have flaws.  If the Seahawks were in the AFC West, yeah, they’d have to worry about the Denver Broncos, but they’re not as good as the 49ers!  Their defense is kind of a joke, and I think our secondary could slow down Manning’s receivers just enough to whup his ass.  Houston’s a good team, but they’re mighty flawed.  They say you can’t count out Baltimore, but look at what I’m doing right now!  I’m counting out Baltimore!  And good luck to New England, because you’re going to need it with your total lack of weapons on offense and your joke of a defense.  If the Seahawks were in the AFC, I could guarantee a 14-2 record, home field advantage, and a Super Bowl appearance and it would most likely happen.  In the NFC, I’m looking a lot more foolish.

Even the non-elite NFC teams are pretty good.  For the record, the elite teams are the Seahawks, 49ers, Falcons, and Packers.  The next-level teams are better than MOST AFC teams:  Saints, Rams, Redskins (with RGIII), Bears, Vikings, Lions, Giants, Cowboys, Bucs & Panthers.  These are all teams the Seahawks should consistently beat, but they do just enough to scare the bejesus out of me.

The Panthers were 7-9 last year, but they were the “good” kind of 7-9.  You know, that “good” kind of 7-9 where they won 5 of their last 6 games to close out the season, including wins over Atlanta and New Orleans.  Essentially, they did just enough to save their head coach’s job, which absolutely blew my mind.

A lot of football experts like the Panthers to make a leap this year.  That seems like a tall order for them to fill, considering the talent in their division.  Still, they fared quite well in games within their own division in 2012, going 3-3 with their three losses all within one score.  In fact, they were one fumble (and one bone-headed coaching decision) from going 4-2 and beating the Falcons twice.

If there’s one thing that doesn’t scare me, it’s the Panthers’ coaching staff.  They’re too conservative and I don’t think they get the best out of the talent around them.  If you’re at mid-field, it’s 4th & 1, you’ve been averaging over 5 yards per carry on the ground, and you’re one first down away from winning the game, you do NOT punt and put the game in the hands of your defense with its non-existent secondary.

I still don’t think their defense is all that good, but they don’t have to be the best defense around.  They just have to be good enough.  And on any given Sunday, they CAN be good enough.

I begrudgingly like Cam Newton.  I don’t think he’ll ever be one of the elite passers in the game, but I think he can top out as a Donovan McNabb-type passer, which is certainly good enough to compete in this league year-in and year-out.  When you tack on his ability to run and his ability to stay healthy, that puts Newton into an entirely different class.  He strikes me as a younger LeBron James – a mental head-case who every so often can completely take over a game and win it by himself.  Their overall running game is as strong as can be, and they’ve got just enough weapons in the passing game to keep defenses honest.

The Seahawks play the Panthers in Week 1.  I know there are plenty of other, scarier opponents on our schedule in 2013, but for some reason I can’t shake this feeling that this Panthers game is a must-win.  It’s a road game, and if the Seahawks are going to contend for a playoff BYE, they’re going to need a good road record.  Anything less than 5-3 is unacceptable.  So, it would be good to not be in a hole right out of the gate.

This Panthers game also comes immediately before our huge showdown at home against the 49ers.  I would argue it’s impossible to overlook your first opponent of a regular season, but if it’s even remotely possible, it’s because those 49ers loom large the following week.  You really want to go into that game 1-0, with the opportunity to go 2-0 and run wire-to-wire in the NFC West.

Truth be told, there isn’t an easy road game in the bunch.  After the Panthers, we head out to Houston and Indianapolis in weeks 4 & 5.  Then, it’s off to Arizona and St. Louis (two tough divisional foes) in weeks 7 & 8.  Then, we go to the Falcons in week 10, followed by our final two road games in San Francisco and New York (against the Giants) in weeks 14 & 15.  If I had to rank these games on the toughness scale, quite honestly the game against the Panthers would be pretty low on that list.  But, that doesn’t make them any less difficult of an opponent.

My nerves are going to be on edge throughout the 2013 season, but they’re going to be at an all-time high going into that first game.  Until we’re able to hold a comfortable lead, I’m just going to have to live with this tightness in my chest.  And this numbness of my arms and legs.  And this profuse sweating and panicked breathing … heart attack.  I’m having a heart attack.  LASSIE, GO GET HELP GIRL!

3 thoughts on “I’m A Worrier: The Carolina Panthers

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