Good evening Panther fans. I must say this post started off as something completely different. The idea came to me as I was watching the Redskins surprising victory over the Saints. I found myself, like many other fans and possibly a Panther or two, looking past the Buccaneers to week 2 versus the Saints. I pondered which would be the tougher challenge, a Saints team coming off a victory with an agenda to prove to the world that they can't be stopped or a team that just lost a game they should have won and now are hungry and a little desperate for a win.
Well it just so happened that the Buccaneers didn't lay down like many expected and in fact pulled a Redskin type victory out of their poop deck, made the Panthers walk the plank and now we drift for the next six days in the same lifeboat as the Saints. This also meant that the question I pose to you faithful Panther fans changes as well.
That question and more after the jump...
Well the question is quite simple now. Which team will leave BoA with a 1-1 record and which will start off 0-2? Personally, if we only beat one team a year I want that win to be against the Saints. I won't bore you with the details of my unhealthy disdain for the team, suffice to say I have very little respect for the organization as a whole. Let me present some information to mull over as you make your prediction.
Since 1990, only 13% of the teams that have started 0-2 make the playoffs. Coaches and players are all well aware that a slow start can stall out a season. Whether you are obligated to wear black and blue or black and gold on Sundays you better believe this is in everyone's head this week and leading up to Sunday.
Since 1996, 33% of the teams who won the Super Bowl started 0-1. This stat goes to show that a loss in the season opener does not equate to a lost season. I can assure you that the Packers and Giants haven't thrown their Super Bowl aspirations out the window and neither should we. Hat tip to MF Panther for this information, please follow the link to his article, a good read.
Division games are important: fact. Winning all your division game ensures you a playoff berth: false. In fact, you only need to look back two years to find a most unlucky Raiders team that swept their division only to miss the playoffs. So does it suck that we gave one away to the Buccaneers? Indeed it does. Does it mean we won't make the playoffs? Meh, statistics show the majority of playoff contenders will lose at least one division game. What stings about this one was it was the first game. It doesn't change the fact that these games are important and with that said the Panthers have more to lose than the Saints since a defeat would essentially be a 25% loss rate in the division by week 2.
Here's a fun fact that I'm sure not too many people were aware of! The Saints and Panthers have been division rivals since the Panthers joined the league in 1995, at the time the two teams fought for dominance of the NFC West. For 17 years we've been at odds with this team and up until recently the Panthers were dominating the rivalry. In fact, it took the Saints winning the past four head-to-head match ups to even the series at 17-17. I don't know which team should be more embarrassed about that last fact, but I digress.
Cam Newton was one of four quarterbacks who were personally targeted by the Saints bounty program. I'm going to level with you because I imagine some Saints fans will read this post. This link is to a Charlotte Observer article reviewing details of the bounty on Cam Newton. It does not contain evidence of said bounty. If there is an article out there detailing that evidence, great. I'm not going to waste my time looking for it because the Saints fans I've conversed with blatantly deny that a bounty existed so I doubt my little fan post here will convince them otherwise. Regardless, this is epic material for the locker room bulletin board. If this doesn't fire up an anemic offensive line nothing will.
Well there you have it Panther fans. This Sunday you have two pissed off freight trains, one with a half-empty bandwagon car and one with a slap full corn dog car, barreling towards each other at break-neck speed. So which conductor flinches? Personally, I like the odds of the full time train conductor to the assistant of the co-conductor. Would you agree?