Here's my latest batch of Paw Prints starting with some 2012 predictions that in my view do not measure up:
First glance at 2012 playoff teams - NFC South Blog - ESPN
The Carolina Panthers are predicted to go 7-9. Again, that’s possible. But let’s remember, Carolina has an explosive offense with Cam Newton and linebacker Jon Beason and defensive tackle Ron Edwards will be coming back from injuries. Add a few more pieces to the defense and the Panthers easily could jump over the .500 mark.
That's a timid prediction in my book, a single game improvement from last year. I think I like this bold prediction much better:
30 Bold NFL Predictions for 2012 | Football Nation
The Carolina Panthers will win 11 games
I would add "Cam Newton will account for 40 TD's in 2012. That's only 6 more that he accounted for in 2011, a performance now labeled a defining moment in the 2011 season:
Newton wastes no time - Defining Moments of the 2011 NFL Season - Photos - SI.com
The No. 1 overall pick needed one week to prove he could play quarterback at the NFL level. And if a rookie-debut record 422 passing yards in Week 1 was not enough for skeptics, Newton topped himself the following week with 432 yards. The Panthers' quarterback threw for a rookie-record 4,051 yards this season. Newton tossed 21 touchdowns and ran in 14 more.
With free agency starting in a month I know many Panthers fans have asked for a vet receiver, Here's a couple mentioned that some say carry high risk in addition to a high price tag.
Then there's Kansas City's Dwayne Bowe, who the Chiefs need and want back. But who can forget Bowe growing those alligator arms late in a loss at home to Pittsburgh in Week 12, which should serve as a cautionary tale regarding his effort level in key moments. He's the best pass-catching threat Kansas City has, but selling out is apparently not part of his career plan.
San Diego's Vincent Jackson also comes with some risk-reward quotient. He's a game-changing threat, but he did have those two DUI arrests in a three-year span, and in 2010 he was cited for driving on a suspended license on the morning of a San Diego playoff game. In fairness, Jackson has kept his nose clean for the past two seasons, but at age 29, you're supposed to learn the error of your ways and grow up.
I don't see the Panthers being able to afford either of these players.
With the Panthers being a bigger draw we might actually get a better announcer team, such as this duo one pundit is calling the best in the NFL.
The Elite • Brad Nessler and Mike Mayock, NFL Network: Because the NFL’s Thursday night slate didn’t start until Week 10, this pairing only worked together a handful of times. But man, were they good. Nessler is energetic without being overly excitable, saving his best calls for the moments that necessitate them. His demeanor turned out to be the perfect match for Mayock, who was so good that SI’s Richard Deitsch named him the "Person of the Year" in his annual Media Awards. Not only does Mayock sound extremely prepared each game, but he takes that knowledge and easily translates it to the viewer.
Seems we always got the Alberts/Johnston/Siragusa team or the Buck/Aikman tag team.
If this truly is the price for the Dolphins to jump from #8-9 to #2 I would say forget it no matter how good RG3 looks:
Price for St. Louis' pick (and who might pay it)
So what would it cost the Dolphins to rise from No. 8 or No. 9, depending on a coin toss, to No. 2? A lot. It will take at least two first round picks and probably closer to three first round picks. And it might actually take this years No. 1, next year's No. 1, the 2014 No. 1 and possibly something else like a third or fifth rounder thrown in there.
All these guys had to do was ask us who the Ultimate Panther Franchise player is and we could have saved them some time:
Carolina Panthers 'Ultimate Franchise Player' Selection
So via process of elimination and having the most impressive overall body of work, MSF’s Ultimate Franchise Player for the Carolina Panthers is… STEVE SMITH
By the way, check out our new Twitter List embed in the right sidebar for the latest tweets from Panther players and beat writers.