Update: Fan Poll added
Continuing our in-depth review of the Panthers schedule by quarter we are up to the 3rd quarter of the season. As it turns out this might be the game with the most story lines. The quarter starts with two home games and finishes with a what I think will be a couple tough games. If you missed them you can read the 1st quarter review here and the 2nd quarter review here. So far we have the Panthers going 3-1 in each of the 1st two quarters to start the 3rd quarter 6-2.
Game 9 Broncos vs. Panthers 1:00pm Nov. 11th
One of the biggest surprises of the schedule is that this game was not in a prime time slot. But it will none the less be prime time for Panther fans. I felt good about this match up until the Broncos won the Peyton Manning sweepstakes. The Broncos have a good defense and now with Manning its hard to feel as confident against them. I'm going to take the Panthers simply based on home field advantage and a sense that the Panthers will be feeling good at this point in the season. There remains the chance Manning will not be ready to work a full season. Beyond that the Panthers should put up points on the Broncos and as long they can keep Manning from making big plays in the passing game they should pull out the victory. Panthers win (7-2).
Three more games to review... after the jump...
Game 10: Bucs @ Panthers 1:00pm Nov. 18th
The Bucs landed some nice free agents on offense and should have a strong defensive line if all of their players return to form. Regardless I'm not feeling a huge improvement in the Bucs on both sides of the ball, at least enough to beat the Panthers at home. I expect it to be a long year for them under their new HC Greg Shiano. I think this is the year that QB Josh Freeman raises his game or shows the Bucs he is not the franchise QB they thought he was. I'm leaning towards the latter. Panthers win (8-2).
Game 11: Panthers @ Eagles 8:30pm Nov. 26th
The Panthers finally return to Monday Night Football but it will be a tough one going to the Linc to play the Eagles. You may remember they were self dubbed the 'Dream Team' last season after landing some of the top free agents and making a block buster trade sending QB Kevin Kolb to the Cardinals for CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Still at this point I have a tough time calling this a victory while also keeping it real. The Eagles will have a game to rejoice as they momentarily stop the Panthers juggernaut, but they slide into another offseason at home. Panthers fall to 8-3.
Game 12: Panthers @ Chiefs 1:00pm Dec. 2nd
I don't see winning in Arrowhead an easy venture as some may think. Yet if the Chiefs still have Matt Cassell at QB I'll be fairly confident. I don't see the Chiefs having enough defense to keep the Panthers under 30 points nor do I see them being able to hold onto the ball long enough to keep the score low. The Chiefs will continue their never ending rebuilding project and succumb to the Panthers who improve their record to 9-3.
So as you can see the 2012 season is playing out very much like the Panthers 2008 season in which they finished 12-4 and won the NFC South. Check back tomorrow for the 4th quarter review.