After last week’s shellacking to the Titans many Panther fans had an all too familiar feeling of deja vu. It seemed as though the ghost of John Fox and Jeff Davidson(both are dead to me) had inhabited Ron Rivera and company. Obviously we all know what our offense is capable of this year with Cam and Chud running the show and most, if not all of us, expected a dominating performance after a bye week that was filled with talk of turning the corner for the second half of the season. Unfortunately we witnessed a dominating performance by the other team and now a good portion of the fan base has written off the Panthers chances against anyone other than the Colts. Well I'm here to promise you that we won't see that again and why the Panthers will be competitive in the rest of their games this season, maybe even scoring an upset or two.
1. Why we win: Cam, Ron, and Smitty have too much pride to get blown out again. We all know how much of a competitor Smitty, which also has it dark side, and I'm sure he is seething after such a lackluster game. Ron just suffered a very embarrassing lost where not only to did his team suffer its first staggering defeat under him but also his team lost composure down the stretch and that reflects poorly onto him. I feel like Ron has too much pride for a situation like what just occurred to happen two weeks in a row. Finally we all know how much of a competitor Cam is, how furious he gets with losing and the fact he said he has never been in a game where the offense didn't score. If there is anyone I expect to put in a copious amount of film study this week it is Cam.
Why we lose: Cam and Ron are too anxious to prove last week was a fluke. This is what I see as our biggest obstacle to winning this week. I believe Cam might actually try to press a little too much at the start of the contest and with Detroit coming in 10th in the league in interceptions he might put the team in a hole trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Also I'm a little worried that Ron might try to outcoach himself and be over-aggressive.
Ultimately I feel like the key is to balance the urge to bounce back while remaining clear headed and focused.
2. Why we win: Bye week blues. Only four teams with losing records have won a game following their bye(Den, Jac, Kc, PHI). Two of which, Den and Jac, beat winless teams(Mia, who was winless at the time, and Indy). While Andy Reid is something like 1403-1 after bye weeks. Due to new player friendly guidelines written into the new CBA teams are not allowed to practice as much during a bye week. Instead teams having an edge due to being better rested are actually less prepared and not performing to expectations. With the Panthers being such a young team in critical spots (QB namely) I don't believe they were prepared for the challenges of the bye week.
Why we lose: Unfortunately Detroit shared its bye week with us and then got destroyed by division rival Da Bears. I'm sure they are also out to prove that they are not who they appeared to be last week. Look for a focused Lions group coming off a poor performance to spend a lot of effort preparing for us.
3. Why we win: Cue Admiral Ackbar "ITS A TRAP". The Lions just played the Bears, and will play the mighty Packers on Thanksgiving just 4 days after playing our lowly Panthers. The Bears(6-3) and Packers(8-0) on paper present a much greater challenge then we do and the Lions won't be able to get up for us following a bad defeat to the Bears and knowing they'll need everything they've got to defeat the Packers. Plus teams are only 1-7-1 against the spread in the game preceding their matchup against Green Bay. We saw the trap a few weeks ago when the Saints lost to the Rams before a big game against the Bucs.
Why we lose: Detroit has a chance to make the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and they know that they have to win games against teams with losing records when they come across them. After playing us Detroit plays Green Bay and then the Saints, Detroit can hardly afford to drop a game to us because if they do they are likely staring at 6-6 after Wk13. I think the Lions coach is smart enough to understand that if he wants to get his team to the playoffs he has to beat a 2-7 team in wk11 at home before a big divisional matchup.
4. Why we win: Our offense is too much for the Lions. Hopefully last week was an outlier, a onetime occurrence that will not bear repeating. We have the most explosive offense in the NFL, for anyone who didn't know btw the Titans had allowed the fewest explosive plays in the league this season and I believe they may have matched up pretty well with us. I think we see Chud getting back to the drawing room and create a few great offensive plays to get the scoring rolling early and often. The O-line had a bad day, everyone has bad days and the O-line knows they let their qb down last week will be looking to prove they are better than they have played lately. On the defensive side of the ball the Panthers shouldn't have to worry too much about being run on since the Lions rushing attack is quite putrid, matching the strength of our D(it's a relative term) against the strength our our opponent.
Why we lose: Their offense and especially their defense are better than ours. Unfortunately the Lions have a better D than the Titans, Detroit has 7 more sacks on the year and have forced 6 more turnovers than the Titans. Also the Lions have allowed the fewest yards per attempt (5.8) on passes in the league. So for the Panthers to win this game the coaching staff will have to rely more on D-Will and Stew more than ever as Detroit has one of the worst rush defenses in the league, they actually allow more yds per carry 4.9 to 4.7 then we do. Hopefully Chud will be smart and use a bit more power I formations this week to try and keep the down and distances manageable.
5. Why we win: Timing! Beside all of the talk about byes weeks and trap games the Lions are actually a little beat up right now. Matthew "The Lions version of Jeff Otah" Stafford is nursing a finger injury on his throwing hand and Calvin Johnson is a little dinged up too.
Why we lose: Stafford should play, Beason and Davis are out, and Brandon Pettigrew is a damn good TE who should be able to take advantage of our poor excuse for a lb corps(sorry Anderson).
Ultimately my mind and gut tell me that the Lions are going to beat us. They are the better team right now with more on the line however I do believe that we will give them a run for money and take them down to the wire in one of those games we have become accustomed to. If you are a bettor then I say go with the Panthers to cover the spread of -7 or -8.
Mind and gut: Lions 31-27.
My homerific heart says PANTHERS 45-3.
On a final note can we stop talking about sucking for a higher draft pick, the whole notion is entirely insulting. Besides winning breeds winning.