Panther Playoffs! Carolina Offense vs Cardinals Defense
This is the time we've all been waiting for. The curtain of the regular season has closed, and it's time for the true show to begin. It's time for the NFL playoffs. It's the time of year whether you either win or you go home. What better motivation can you have? You either win this game, or your season is over. Some of them may lose jobs, some of them may retire, but all of them lose a chance for a run at a championship.
It showed a certain growth in our fan base, especially in our own city. In times of economic crisis, the Panthers are proving that they can be the team that the city can rally behind. Whether it's a huge boost to small business in a time of need, a way for people to get together, or just something for me to write about, the team is the best thing that happened to our city. We've dedicated so much hope and optimism into this team, and they've done a great job. We all ought to be thankful to owner Mr. Richardson for his lifetime of work. As the Panthers roll into its second decade, he has firmly entrenched the Panthers, NFL, and football in general into the Carolina landscape.
Now the Panthers face the Cardinals, considered by most to be the best match-up that the Panthers had the possibility to face. However, it's important to note that the Falcons thought the same thing, right up to the point when they were slaughtered by Kurt Warner. We know what the Cardinals are going to come in here and try to do. They're going to try to abandon their running game and get their west coast magic to work once again, and it's time for the Panthers to put the smack down on Kurt Warner and show him that you can't pull that crap in this league.
The Panthers will need to get the ball to Steve Smith as early as possible to free up Williams in the running game. If the Cardinals have any sense at all they'll try to stack to box to stop Williams and the Panthers running game. If they don't do it, then Williams will have to run all over them and demand it. Even then, with a offensive line that is returning all five starters, it might not be enough. To say the Cardinals will be challenged this week could be the understatement of the century.
And here comes the top match-ups for the week.
DeAngelo Williams Vs. Cardinals Run Defense
DeAngelo is the best running back in the NFL. Sure I'm biased because I'm a fan of the Panthers, but he's the only running back in the NFL that doesn't have a fumble besides Tomlinson, and he leads the league in touchdown runs with 18. That's a pretty big thing to bring into the game, on top of all his yardage. The Cardinals have a below average defense, 16th in defending the rush. That doesn't bode well for their chances, once again vs a offensive line that is returning all five starters. Williams should break out at least once for a big gain.
Steve Smith/Moose vs Hood/Rodgers-Crocmartie
The Cards have a pair of corners that are pretty decent. They're not excellent, but they're decent enough. Either way, you have to contend with Steve Smith. Neither one of them are skilled enough to take care of him one on one. They'll need a lot of safety help. You can be sure that Rodgers will have a big target mark on his back as well. He's a rookie in his second postseason game. That said, he did play pretty good in his first game. He'll still be a target though, perhaps Moose can pull out some of his moves on him? Who knows?
Jake Delhomme vs Rust
There is a factor here that Jake Delhomme could come out rusty and lay an egg. The Panthers need to take this into consideration when calling plays. I'd say you challenge Jake to throw the ball on the first play of the game. Give him a short completion to Williams or something like that to get him into the game, and then start pulling out the playbook bit by bit. The key is to get Jake into a rhythm. When you do that, he can throw almost as good as Peytan Manning. Ok that's exaggerating, but he can make a play to Steve Smith instead of Steve Smith making a play on Jake's lob up the field. There is a difference.