Where does 2011 leave us

So, with all the mock stuff coming up I've been thinking a lot about the season and how it will end. I, like many of you, would like to see the Panthers gain some momentum and send a couple play-off bound teams in to the post-season with a sour taste in their mouth. Before we go on with the end of the Panthers season, let us first take a look at the other teams that would like to put 2011 behind them and their remaining schedules:

Teams and their remaining schedules:

1) Colts pick first

No schedule necessary, sorry Colts fans

2) St Louis (2-12): Cin, @Pitt, San Fran (2-14)

While St. Louis is a much better team than their record indicates I can't realistically see them winning any of these games because each of these teams will be playing til the final whistle of the regular season

3) Minnesota (2-12): NO, @Washington, Chicago (3-13)

I'm more like 50% on their last 2 games and chalked that up as 1 potential win. Even with AP coming back I think the Skins play angry and get the W. The Bears however are beginning to unravel & I don't believe they received the same divine intervention from Tim Tebow that Carlos Dansby received.

4) Tampa Bay (4-9): Dallas, @Carolina, @Atlanta (4-12)

Could we get someone in the CSR stats department to get me some figures on when the last time (if ever) a team won their first four and then lost their last 12?

5) Browns (4-9): @Arizona, @Baltimore, Pittsburgh

Only winnable game here is this week but I think the Cardinals want it more and are the better team

6) Chiefs (5-8): Green Bay, Oakland, @Denver (5-11)

Oakland and Denver are possible but just unlikely since the Chiefs aren't that good and both of those teams are in the play-off race

7) Jacksonville (4-9): @Falcons, @Ten., Colts (5-11)

Bet you can't guess which one they win

8) Skins (4-9): @Giants, Minnesota, @Philadelphia (5-11)

I have them winning one of the last 2 but I flip-flop on which one. I think the Vikes get the best of them but Vick and the Eagles come out in the final week and show us what some thought their entire 2011 season was supposed to be (lots of points, defense built to protect a lead)

9) Dolphins (4-9): @Buffalo, @New England, Jets (5-11)

As much as I enjoy the Matt Moore story I don't think these guys have another chance after this week.

10) Eagles (5-8): Jets, @Dallas, @Washington (6-10)

Beat by 2 teams in the race and then reloading and unloading on the poor Skins

So now, here is the moment you have all been waiting for... I'm going to be a bit optimistic and say we get two more wins. Cam learned a hard lesson last week about how costly turnovers can be. Out offense (when clicking) can play with any defense. The real question is can our defense contain their two-headed attack of Foster/Tate & force TJ Yates to beat us?

If we lose against the Texans the second win could come against the Saints though I would go on record as having said I believe this will be the more difficult of the two wins. I believe the Steelers will beat the Niners this week and in doing so give the Saints an opportunity to get a first round bye in the playoffs, but only if they win out. Atlanta will be another classic, tough-man game the week before they play us and who wins that is a mystery to me (though I give the edge to the Aints'). Regardless of outcomes, I can't see the Saints not playing their starters without a large lead and I certainly don't see any team overlooking us (though there is a chance that they come off the Atlanta game a little banged up).

So, what does this all mean? Scenario A: Well with just one more win we would be 5-11 on the season and picking #6 overall. The inconvenience of this position and what should be done has been greatly discussed on other posts recently. Personally, I see all the teams above us with obvious needs and a lot of good players gone. Maybe the draft would shake out something like this: Andrew Luck, Matt Kalil, Morris Claiborne, Justin Blackmon (Luke Kuechly & Dre K were my first and second choice for the Bucs as I see their defense in dire need of some LB talent but I don't believe they would spend that high of a pick on a backer so I really wasn't sure -- your opinions?), RG III, ________. So this is essentially the same song and dance for us. On one hand if Barkley does declare for the draft (I don't believe he will) then we have two potential QB needy teams in Miami & Washington just below us but it's equally probable (more probable if Barkley doesn't declare and their are only 2 great QB's in the draft) that these teams to get Tampa Bay or Minnesota's pick in order to skip Cleveland. The possibilities for this scenario are endless but the picture will become more clear at the end of the season when we know which players are in the draft and where teams are picking.

Scenario B: We win two more games and end with a record of 6-10. We're picking #10 overall here and I would mock us Z. Brown. If Davis doesn't come back he's the replacement and if TD does manage a miraculous comeback then he is good for rotation and improves ST's immediately. Other needs (IMO) would be OL (considering Decastro, Martin or Reiff in that order depending on who is left) & DT; however, I'm not really convinced any DT's in this draft deserve to go before the bottom of the first round and would take any of the aforementioned before a DT.

So Panthers fans, this is my first fan post and those are my thoughts on the rest of the season and the potential outcome it would have on the 2011 draft. I hesitated before making this post because I know people get kind of burnt out on draft stuff but the fact that most mocks had us drafting very high didn't seem right to me and I thought I'd take a closer look myself. Turns out....they may be right. Feel free to share your thoughts on our remaining schedule and draft outcome(s) in the comments section below. GO PANTHERS!

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