Over the past few months I, like all of Panther Nation, have been impatiently waiting for the season opener. The only problem was for the first time in a long time I've also been dreading it. Dreading it because of all the odds that are stacked against us. Dreading it because we haven't won a season opener since 2008 and subsequently haven't had a winning season since then, because we're playing a team that most predict to go to the Super Bowl this year, because we have seemingly a lame duck OC, because...well you get the picture.
Well I'm self-medicating via FanPost and I'm dragging all you morose Panther fanatics along with me. By the time I get done typing this, and you finish reading it, I will have invigorated not only myself but every one of you that Sunday is the day we start our next winning run. Who's with me?!
5 Reasons We Can Win
Charlotte is not Seattle Sure, we have many people who indulge in overpriced coffee that is ordered much like someone requesting a high-end cocktail, but there's one thing we have that Seattle does not...sticky, hot September weather. The Seahawks hold summer camp at the Virginia Mason Athletic Center, a beautiful practice facility in Renton Washington. Want to guess the August average high/low temperature in Renton, WA? 78/55 degrees. The much-maligned Carolina Panthers practice in Spartanburg, SC. Spartanburg, SC is 6 klicks west of hellfire and damnation...it's hot. The average high is 86.8 degrees but the humidity makes it feel like you're tucked away in Lucifer's coat pocket...it's hot. Hotter than Brooklyn Decker in a pepper patch. Hotter than two ex-Panther cheerleaders in a Tampa Bay bathroom.
Hotter than BW Smith in assless chaps, you get the picture. Charlotte will be slightly less hot and muggy than Spartanburg this Sunday but all the same, it will play a factor on opening day for a team that isn't used to it.
Time Zones As someone who travels constantly for a living I can attest that changing time zones, even from Eastern to Central, can prove to be very trying on a person. You find yourself wanting to sleep before Adult Swim takes over Cartoon Network. You wake up before Bojangle's is serving those heavenly BoBerry biscuits, hell sometimes there's not even a Bojangles around. For the Seahawks, it's even worse. Let's say a player wakes up at 7:00 a.m. to start his game day routine. If that's the case, a Seahawks body is telling him "hey, get back in bed it's only 3:00 a.m." nevermind the fact that it's opening day and I doubt they sleep well anyway. Add in the ridiculous rules governing substances a player can take (I can't eat prescription Adderal, WTF?!) and I doubt these guys can even pop a melatonin. Make no mistake, the cross-country trek to Charlotte will take it's toll.
"It's a Trap!" - Admiral Ackbar You love the Panthers, I love the Panthers. We bleed black and blue, but let's face it; outside of the Carolinas this team is predominantly viewed as a hot mess. If the Seahawks allow perception to become reality then this game is being overlooked. Imagine this scenario, the Panthers opener is on the road against the Bills *ducks to avoid a beer can. Hey, I love the team but we're unfortunately on their level at the moment. Game two is your home opener against the hated Atlanta Falcons, a team who told you to get the @#$! off their field, a team that is predicted for greatness, a team with a smug QB with a dumb nickname and a coach to match (Mike Smith you are not and will never be "Smitty"). THAT is the Seahawks opening schedule. We are sandwiched between preseason nonsense and a home opener with a bitter rival. This is the trap game situation of all trap games.
Sophmore Slump The two words that Panther fans have grown to hate since sometime in February 2012. Cam Newton was destined for failure according to the talking heads. In some sense, they were right. If you don't care to dig into the whole fiasco that was Rob Chudzinski then yeah, Cam slumped. But he brushed himself off and turned in a second half of the season that was truly great. I don't see Seattle's OC going down the same path, but I do see a QB with flaws. Don't get me wrong, there are times I look at Russell Wilson and wish Cam Newton had his maturity and leadership skills. There are times I wonder how in the world did he make that play? I think Russell Wilson will have a great NFL career. I do think Russell Wilson was in a class by himself when you consider his intangables and therein lies the flaw, no one was prepared for it. I see a QB who will come back down to Earth this year but who's smart enough to work through it and become even better, much like Cam. Luckily, we play Wilson in game 1.
Hype Sorry but my history as a Panther fan tells me hype is never a good thing and unfortunately the Seahawks have alot of pressure on them. If they've allowed it to give them a big head and have bought into it then it can only lead to sloppy play, unpreparedness and alot of what-might-have-been.
Well I don't know about you Panther fans but I feel slightly better about our home opener. I'm not calling up my bookie (where does one even find a bookie) but I'm not totally convinced we can't sneak one over on the lauded Seahawks.
Let's keep this going! What did I miss? What other factors lead to a win? Heck, join us for a healthy debate Seahawks fans, why don't these matter?