Now that our worst fears have come true, a 0-3 start to the season, it is obviously time to adjust our predictions for the season. I have to first admit that I never did a game-by-game prediction post in the preseason. I have to also admit it's mainly because I couldn't honestly predict the season game by game. It would have been too painful. Now I'm not saying I would have predicted a 0-3 start but I knew the Panthers were very unlikely to get off to a strong start after watching their preseason performance.
All is not lost though as the Panthers face better match-ups in the weeks ahead. Let's look at each of them and see if the Panthers can truly turn this season around.
Redskins vs. Panthers - Though the Redskins are 2-2 they have beat two teams that are a combined 0-8. They also provided the Lions their first win in 20 games. It's not hard to imagine the Panthers getting their first win this Sunday. Record 1-3.
Panthers @ Bucs - The Bucs are 0-4 and give no reason to believe they are on the verge of turning things around. The Panthers record should shortly be 2-3.
Bills vs. Panthers - The Bills have an unconvincing win over the Bucs and two bad losses to the Dolphins and Saints. It's mot hard to imagine the Panthers beating a team that struggles to stop the run (27th) at home. Record 3-3.
Panthers @ Cardinals - The Cardinals appear to be a shell of the team that made its SB run last season. Add in the fact the Panthers will want to exorcize some demons I can see a very inspired win on the road. Record 4-3
Panthers @ Saints - I hate to admit it but the Saints appear to be for real this season. Darin Sharper has improved the secondary and Drew Brees continues his good work. The Saints will be inspired to beat the Panthers who swept them last season. Record 4-4.
Falcons vs. Panthers - This is back-to-back revenge games yet the Panthers come out on the winning side this time. The Panthers have to know they match-up well with the Falcons as an inspired home crowd will watch a convincing victory. Record 5-4
Dolphins vs. Panthers - With QB Chad Pennington out for the season the Panthers will pack the box and look to stop the wildcat. Having seen it in the preseason they will be ready this time. Record 6-4
Panthers @ Jets - This game is one of the harder ones for me to predict. I think the Jets have a chance to make some noise this season if not for the rookie QB Mark Sanchez. I'm scared to think what Kris Jenkins will do to our o-line as he tries to send a message to the Panther brass. Conversely the rookie QB could have a meltdown, but I'm not seeing it deciding the game. Record 6-5
Bucs vs. Panthers - The Bucs put up a bit of a fight but still fall. Record 7-5
Panthers @ Patriots - This game is my upset special. Nobody but the Panther faithful will expect this victory but I think the Panthers will avenge their 2003 SB loss. The Patriot defense is not what it was and I'm predicting a late season swoon for the musket lovers. Record 8-5
Vikings vs. Panthers - The Vikings look very good with the graybeard Favre at the helm. Problem is he is bound to be hurt by then leaving the Vikings at the mercy of T-Jack. The Panthers avenge their loss to the Vikings last season. Record 9-5.
Panthers @ Giants - I would love another upset here but I'm not feeling it. The Giants have the Panthers number, a stout running game a d-line we can't keep at bay. Let's pray we don't see them in the playoffs. Record 9-6
Saints vs. Panthers - I'm think the Saints will already have a two game lead will have wrapped up the division at this point and have nothing to play for. The Panthers on the other hand will have to win to get in and then need help from another team. Record 10-6.
At 10-6 I see the Panthers getting the last playoff spot as two teams from the NFC East secure spots. Whether it's the Giants and Egles or Giants or Cowboys I don't know. I'm also seeing the Falcons and Packers tripping up down the stretch allowing the Panthers to squeak into the playoffs and go up against the 49ers on the road.
So though I'm predicting the Panthers fail to defend their division title they will still grab a playoff spot and opportunity to make a post season run that comes with it. You may recall the Panthers made both of their post season runs this decade from a wildcard spot. I realize is a Homer slant but its not a huge stretch is it?