Well, it's just that time of week again
It's time for football, and yet at the same time it just feels like life is shutting down for the week. You guys are off work enjoying the holidays with your family, relishing those last slices of sweet potato pie that you took home from Aunt Bernie's house. This weekend we have football as usual, only no one cares because we're too busy stuffing ourselves. Just seems like the Panther fans have just shut down for the year you know? I haven't heard anyone mention the Panthers all week where I live. They have good reason too, there just isn't anything exciting going on compared to last week. Everyone just seems to be distracted by all of the happy hohumness of the holidays.
There isn't that huge anticipation heading into the end of the week. There isn't any star running back that everyone is fretting about. It doesn't seem like anything is on the line, even though we're still playing for that huge #2 seed in the NFC for the playoff bye. It's only....that last game of the season. It's when the fate of most teams have already been determined and they're just now realizing it. You've either made the playoffs or you've missed it. You've either got something to play for, or you don't. It's that one game that no one cares about: The final steps at the end a long journey.
I'm not going to lie, even with home field advantage and ESPN favorable blessing the Saints will not be the favorites in this matchup. Pierre Thomas hasn't played all week and is listed as Questionable, and Jeremy Shockey is out. If Thomas doesn't play, that drops them down to Deuce probably getting the majorities of the carries. His time has long since passed, and that's not good for their running game. On the other hand both of our defensive tackles may be out of the game. Both. Only one of them deserved to be a starter in the NFL anyway so that leaves a huge gaping hole in our run defense that we'll be fighting to fill.
Then you have the wildcard factor in Drew Brees. He's just over 400 away from breaking Dan Marino's record for passing yards in a single season. Will he pick on Ken Lucas and whomever he's covering? Probably. Will he throw more long balls down the field? If they're open. Will the Saints run the ball more than they usually do? What would possess them not to?
The Panthers would do well to put themselves up by a touchdown or two to take our minds off of their explosive offense.
And now for the top offensive matchups for Week 17.
Moose vs Jason David
Good evening mismatch. If Moose plays at the top of his game, I don't see how Jason will be able to cover him. After 3 dismal seasons with the Colts he was doing a little better in 07, and then he comes back the next season and only puts up 20 tackles. D'oh! At least he's good a making INT's. He has got 5 for the year.
It's more of a physical mismatch more than anything. Speed vs Power. It's nice up until the point where you have to make a tackle. Then you have a problem. I'm not even going to mention what happens if David gets matched up with Smith.
Williams/Stewie vs Saints Run Defense
We will look to build on the success of our running game the last time we faced the Saints. Both Williams and Stewart combined for 136 yards and a TD, while Jake carved up the defense for another couple of TD's to Smith and Williams. It really wasn't that hard the last time we faced them, and with Williams on fire the last couple of weeks we have a good chance to run over 150+ yards for this game.
That's really it. The Panthers need to have a strong showing on defense in order to prepare for the playoffs. That's been the biggest question. Can the Panthers stop the chains from moving? That's what doomed us in the Giants game. We need to come out in this game and show the world that the Panthers are still a defensive oriented team. It'll be tough with both of our defensive tackles gone, but hey, that's why we got John Fox isn't it?