Maybe we should stick a fork in the Panthers 2012 season as some have suggested. Personally I'm not there yet though I admit my expectations have been lowered dramatically. Here's why I think the Panthers can turn this season around to the point of still being an improvement over 2011: the remaining schedule.
Where the final nine games used to look really tough prior to the season kick off it no longer looks so scary. So let's take them one by one and see if we can find six or more wins in the final nine:
Week 9: @ Redskins (3-5) - This one is the key because we have to stop this losing streak asap and its our 2nd toughest road game remaining. The good news is the Redskin secondary is terrible and the Panther defense is playing much better. If they can keep RG3 in the pocket they have a chance of holding the score down. A very winnable game though the Redskins are favored by 3. I'm calling for the upset!
Week 10: Broncos (4-3) - I'm hopeful the return of John Fox might inspire the veterans and the home crowd to a big Panthers victory. If they can get pressure on Peyton and contain Thomas they can score on the Broncos defense. Again, I predict another Panther upset and the start of some real momentum.
Week 11: Bucs (3-4) - Come on we know we can beat these guys. We played like total scrap in week 1 but won't get surprised this time. We even the score with the Bucs in 2012 to make it three wins in a row.
Week 12: Eagles (3-4) - Here's where it gets fun, on Monday Night Football. By the time this game rolls around the Eagles and their fans will be in total melt down. They are already calling for Vick's benching and Reid's job. Things will get ugly at the Linc and I mean in the stands as the Panthers roll the Eagles.
Week 13: @ Chiefs (1-6) - The Chiefs are one of two teams everyone agrees are worse than the Panthers. The Panthers will roll again on the road as the Chiefs have no answer for our momentum and five game win streak!
Week 14: Falcons (7-0) - Even though we should have beat these guys in Atlanta in the first game I'm going to say the win streak stops here as the Falcons figure out the Panthers pass rush and play like we expected in the first game. Falcons sweep the season series.
Week 15 @ Chargers (3-4) - Nothing about the Chargers scares me at this point. It will be a tough road game but if the Panthers play well and don't turn the ball over they can win this game. If the Chargers continue to struggle on offense then this is a Panther win.
Week 16: Raiders (3-4) - Not knowing which Raider team will show up, my bet is the one that falls apart on the road. Just keep McFadden in check and this one is in the bag.
Week 17: @Saints (2-5) - We beat them before so no reason why the Panthers won't win a meaningless game the Saints just want to get over with. The Panthers though will be inspired to end with a non-losing reason.
Overall record of Panthers remaining opponents: 29-35
Take the Falcons 7-0 record out and its 22-35 (38%). Hardly imposing and very ripe for a run on the win column. It all starts this week but even if not the Panthers can win another 6 or even 7 games this year. They just need to not lose focus late in games and blowing them stupid fashion.