This has been a good week. The Panthers took the field against the Broncos and they didn't disappoint.
The running game was good overall, but it didn't get going in the first half, so the Panthers replied with a heavy dose of Steve Smith, as he broke 100 yards and a TD in the first quarter. Seems like that is always the way. There will always be the debate asking if Jake Delhomme would have been such a good NFL without Steve Smith But then there is also the debate if Peytan Manning would have been anything without Marvin Harrison. Would Joe Montana have been anything without Jerry Rice? There is the debate if the Giants would have won the Super Bowl without Plexico Burress. Bottom line: Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith is one of the best hookups in the league. He proved it yesterday.
In the second half Deangelo Williams broke loose for a good 60 yard run for the score. After that, the offense started clicking on all cyllanders with Steve Smith and Stewart getting the ball down the field with ease. The Panthers finished with 30 points, 400 yards offense, and only 5 penalties. The defense held the Broncos to only 10 points, abusing and blitzing Jay Cutler so that he could never relax in the pocket. We came away with three sacks for the night and countless pressures on Jay Cutler, while our offense allowed Jake Delhomme to walk into the victory formation with a clean jersey.
Meanwhile in the rest of the NFL, nothing could have worked better in favor of the Panthers. The only two teams in the league with a better record blew their games. The Giants lost to the Dramaboys and the Titans literally gave a game to the Houston Texans when they decided to go for it on 4th and 3 late in the 4th quarter with a 49 yard field goal available that would have sealed the game. In addition, the Bucs were separated from any hope they had of coming back in the division when they lost a close game to the Atlanta Falcons in overtime.
In spite of the Giants loss to the Boys, it does nothing to help the Panthers. Even though they now share a identical record, the Giants still have a better divisional record so would they still have home field advantage if the regular season was to end today. So the next game we have will be almost as big a game as the Tampa Bay game. It would be such a great lift to the city if we were to host the playoffs in Charlotte. With the Panthers undefeated at home, I have full confidence that we can beat any team in the NFL if they face us at our stadium.
The big story underneath the story is going to be a man named Brandon Jacobs. The game against the Cowboys proved one thing, and that it's pretty hard for the Giants to run without the big man mowing everyone down. The Earth, Wind, and Fire with the Earth taken out of it seems to become a breeze and a lighter. Ward and Bradshaw only managed 72 yards through 17 carries, forcing Eli Manning to throw the ball 35 times. The Cowboys responded with 8 sacks, two INT's, and no touchdowns for the Giants. While the media is worried about Eli Manning and the drama going on in New York with Burress and his cohorts, the real story is going to be whether or not Jacobs can play. If I were you guys, I'd keep a good eye on the injury report. If Brandon Jacobs doesn't play, it will be much much easier to stop their running game.
Without Jacobs, I'm confident that Carolina can shut down the running game. With Jacobs, I'm not so sure. When I look at Jacobs, I'm reminded of a internet web series named Terry Tate: Office Linebacker. Jacobs will never break free and run 70 yards for a touchdown, but he has the ability to run over anyone that gets in his way. There is no player in the NFL that can tackle him once he gets a full head of steam. He is that good.
Next week will be a good game. The Panthers playoff drought is over. And if they win these last couple of games, the road for the Super Bowl shall go through Charlotte.
((Correction: If the Panthers win the next game. That's it. According to head-to-head rules the Panthers will automatically get home field advantage if they beat the Giants this next game.))