17 January, 2009


Hello, Fanz-

For those of you still into the season after the abomination we saw exactly one week ago, I muster what's left of the clarivoyance gland and take on the championship games. Armed with a well-earned case of Labatt's, I go into the games relishing some good football. This will be short, and a quick read.

The first game will be the hardest to watch. This SHOULD have been played here! But I ranted myself out of it, and I'm moving on. It is what it is, to quothe the Fox. The Iggles are really playing a fantastic game right now, on both sides of the ball. As much praise has been heaped upon the Cardy-noles for the game last week, I'm of the mindset that the Panthers LOST that game far more than the Cards WON it. Yeah, yeah, yeah, opportunistic defense this, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitz, that, the fact is that the Fleegul defense will be hitting like their momma's been violated. I particularly like the play of Brian Dawkins in the secondary, who is a playmaker in the mold of Ed Reed. And Donovan McSnabb is playing like he had Steve Smith disease. I think the Iggles hit 'em hard and often. They are favoured, last time I looked by -3, and I'm confident they cover and return to their third Super Bowl.

I'm thinking this could be a body-bag game for the ages. I don't like the matchup of the Squeeler offensive line versus that punishing Raven defense, that has a score to settle. Somehow, I'm envisioning WorthlessBerger giving way to Byron Leftwich, and I'm envisioning Ed Reed returning a pick for six, which might be the only touchdown of the game. The weather conditions will be miserable, and will favour a team able to run. Neither will be doing that particularly well for this game. The highest scoring defense will make the difference, and I like the Quothers to quothe themselves into their second Super Bowl. At least to cover the -6 points their getting on the road...

There you go, Fanz who are left from the debris of the season... I hope to salvage something from the wretched weekend I had last week-

Ugh! I went 1-4 for a total playoff record of 3-5.

I'll be back in a little bit with a rant that's percolating Panther Blue for me and you....

uggh that was lame...

11 January, 2009


January 11th, 2009

It’s a word that perfectly describes the aftermath of the VERY WORST home loss in franchise history.

A loss that invalidates a sparkling 12-4 record.

That invalidates a breakout season for not only DeAngelo Williams, but Jeff Otah, Jonathan Stewart, and Charles Godfrey.

That invalidates a record-setting rushing attack.

That invalidates arguably the most successful recovery from Tommy John Surgery.

That invalidates a stellar season from Steve Smith, and a triumphant return by Mushin Muhammad.

That invalidates a glowing post-season record for the team under John Fox and Jake Delhomme

That invalidates a season’s worth of great expectations and joyous Sundays, with one INCREDIBLE Monday.

And in a deeply disappointing and cruel twist-

It VALIDATES the increasing criticism that’s heaped toward Jake Delhomme and John Fox.

This is a rant I never believed I'd write, and now I'm disgusted in writing it.

Let’s be honest here. I’d heap a steaming pile of the blame towards Foxy and his coaching staff for a shoddy and poorly – thought out game plan. Why, but why, was the uber-powerful rushing attack so potent in the opening drive so quickly abandoned in favour of a passing game that OBVIOUSLY wasn’t working? Standing in my section, I could not believe what I was watching in the first half. Even down by 13 points in the second quarter did not constitute an emergency, especially when SteWilliams is capable of scoring from any area on the field! It’s as if the entire team, from executive to coach to player to ball boy drank DEEPLY of the Kool-Aid the media had mixed up in praising the Carolina Panthers, and all that was necessary was to show up. It’s so very deflating and discouraging to see a coaching staff as respected and regarded as this one fail so miserably at the very worst time.






Just as inexplicable is the BEYOND WRETCHED performance of Delhomme. It’s possible we could have survived two turnovers. Even three might have been overcome with even an average offensive performance. BUT SIX!!?? This performance, ironically enough, on his birthday, was the single worst game of his career, without a shred of doubt. Practically all Jake’s throws were off, or forced into coverage when secondary receivers were wide open. The line gave him plenty of time, and was not influencing the poor throws. No matter what happens in the next season or so, this game will be an enduring ugly stain on Delhomme’s legacy, and one that will surely make the quarterback position one to be re-evaluated in the months to come, despite the convicted verbage coming from Fox following this abortion of a game. But ahh, you know this is an upcoming rant in the agonizing months preceeding the NFL Draft.

Of course, we know the defense also shares a nice load of blame. I had felt this last year, and even this year’s much improved performance from one Julius Peppers didn’t completely bury this notion I had.

Trade Peppers.


He hasn’t made NEAR enough of the game-changing plays that defined his play seasons ago. He’s living off legacy and reputation now, in my opinion, and in the NFL, legacy and reputation are short-lived if performance does not continuously back it up. Peppers just hasn’t lived up to those hallmarks. The remainder of the defense, short of the linebackers and safeties, have also fallen far short of what a “John Fox” defense is supposed to be. The line and cornerbacks have largely underperformed in the second half of the season, and when it was VITAL to stop the Cardy-nole attack, they just got out-physicalled by the Arid-Zona offense. Unacceptable. This unit not only needs an infusion of personnel, but a new coordinator. Trading Peppers, if possible with the advent of his free agency, would get us a first-round draft choice, at the very least, to begin this infusion. And that, of course, will be added to the offseason rant I’m soon to write!

Adding to the belligerent swirl of malevolent karma that suddenly appeared last night was the unprecedented boot Rhys Lloyd made out of bounds early. Somehow, when I saw that, I sadly realized that we were not winning this game. I guess when those bad winds blow, they distress all phases of the team.


One thing that even the most wretched performances could NEVER invalidate is the supreme, superlative party that was thrown yesterday in the lot. This was the single greatest tailgate party PantherFanZ ever had, and I knew Marc was grinnin’ ear to ear in his heavenly home knowing that we’d carry the party he adored to this level. I want to thank Dano and James and every single person that’s contributed to spirt of fellowship, food and fun that’s been the highlight of the year to me. It’s been a welcome respite from the maelstrom of ordinary life, and I can’t assign enough value to that. The food, the band, even the well-behaved Cardy-Nole fans were stellar. And oh, how good it was to see our Canadian contingent represented by Peter and Doug, who by the way, got to witness some pretty interesting behaviour in Hartigan’s following the game. In seven more months, we get to plan this all over again, and we get a hint of what it might be when the schedules come out this spring. As I’ve always said, other than the noise we make in supporting the team, we don’t control what the Panthers do. What we DO control, is the party, and it has never, ever, disappointed, regardless if it was a few boxes of chicken and tunes coming from the Party Prowler, to whole pigs and pork shoulders and The Contagious Blues Band AND Red Bull with an OPEN BAR! Even ten interceptions couldn’t ruin our fun. It’s the one thing that’s safe from the teams’ sudden vomiting of ineptitude.

And to close this season’s final rant as it concerns the Panthers, I follow the metaphor that I’d subconsciously dedicated to Marc. One of the saddest things I’d ever seen on screen was in the third Star Trek movie. Faced with the prospect of death for his crew, Captain Kirk made the only choice he could make- He blew up the beloved, iconic Starship Enterprise to save them. As the ship shuddered from explosions, as a fan of the series, I was incredulous with disbelief as I saw the flaming hulk of the ship stream across the atmoshphere of the planet the crew was now marooned on. In a similar sense, I watched last night’s regurgitation of everything that could be vile upon the field with an equal amount of sadness and disbelief. Only Star Trek is a fictitious serial. They rebuilt the Enterprise in the following episode, anyway. What happened at the stadium, of course, was real. It happened. Only Foxy blew up Starship Panther ’08 two games short of the final destination because of ineptitude, and not out of necessity. The good news is that THIS ship can also be rebuilt, but the sting of this defeat, with the best offense ever fielded by the Panthers, and one of the best chances since ’03 to get to the Super Bowl, will be indelibly etched in that part of the hearts of the fans where sadness is stored for a very, very, long time.

I’m not soon to forget it.

And so I say “farewell” to the ’08 season. Invalidated by this loss. And still every bit,

A PantherFan.

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09 January, 2009


January 9th, 2009

I was aghast when I saw Monday morning’s early line on tomorrow’s divisional contest. TEN POINTS? A TEN POINT SPREAD? IN FAVOUR OF THE PANTHERS? What, I wonder, made The Panthers and Cardy-Noles that drastically different than the two teams that met in Week 8? Have the Vegas oddsmakers guzzled the Stewilliams Kool-Aid? And got terminally buzzed from it? There’s no doubt in my mind that we’re the better team, I’m just not sure, at this stage of the playoffs, that we’re TEN POINTS better than a team we had to rally to beat by four- And so with that, I sit at my keyboard, and pound out a prescription that will get us to that plateau. And I really wanted to do this earlier in the week, but situational difficulties made that prohibitive. Read on FanZ-

This is the playoffs. Defense and ground game are imperative to execute optimally to insure success, particularly at the divisional and championship rounds. The Panthers at least have ONE of those. But, a vastly underrated factor is the play of the special teams- one which I think favours the Panthers. The Cardy-Noles are near the bottom of the league in return yardage – The Panthers are in the upper regions. Rhys Lloyd has consistently rooted kickoffs in the endzone, eliminating damaging returns. The coverage teams are a bunch of hard hitters for us, and we shouldn’t be giving up too much field position here. This is where the advantages that ensure a Panther victory begin.

On offense, Carolina just can’t forget what got them to this place. Those five guys I ranted over a few weeks ago have got to once again grade the Cardy-Noles like they have done to the rest of the league in the last quarter of the season. If we are gaining 5 yards per carry, there’s no reason to get cute offensively. I’m sure Foxy realizes that and he’s patient enough to give that part of the game a chance. And Arid-Zona respects our run enough that the play-action pass will certainly be an option in the attack, and with the commitment to stopping the run, the very real possibility of Moose and Smith running in single coverage could be devastating and chew up mega-yards. There are some playmakers defensively for the Cardy-noles that will have to be accounted for, and there’s every indication that the selfless skill players for Carolina will be there to block. All this adds up to the controlled game that Foxy loves to play, and if the defense is successful in blunting the Cardy-Nole passing attack, this second elixir of pure, unadulterated Foxball will bring us closer to covering that huge spread.

On defense, the Panthers will have to seriously bash Arid-Zona’s receivers RIGHT AT THE LINE when the ball’s snapped, and pick their poison offensively, which undoubtedly will be Larry Fitzgerald. Chris Gamble should no doubt get that assignment, and Turkey-Vac should shade a safety over to help. And that front seven will have to get in Warner’s face, and make him feel even more uncomfortable in that expected chilly rain to fall in Charlotte. When we turned up the heat in Week 8, he made more errant throws and a pick to Jon BEASTon. That heat needs to be multiplied EXPONENTIALLY by Mr. Turkey-Vac. Warner is a crafty veteran who has one of the quickest read-and-releases in the game right now, and quick line penetration by the pass rushers will be key. As always, the play of Julius Peppers will be the wild card. If the Cardy-Noles fail to account for where he is in his ever-changing position in the defense, he could be game-changing disruptive. In the secondary, the focus needs to be ON TACKLING! PERIOD! If the receivers are continuously hit hard and jarred, they will begin to hear feet when they get in space, and their effectiveness becomes limited. As a matter of fact, tackling needs to be a priority for every man on the defensive squad. I cannot emphasize that enough. There’s no question this talented offense will get their yards, it’s just important to limit scoring to field goals, and not touchdowns, if at all. This is the third part of the prescription.

These three parts are all up to the Panthers to execute. Perhaps the most important part of all is supplied by US- The Carolina Panther Fans. Remember the incredible amount of noise we generated for Tampa Bay? We need to TRIPLE IT! This will be a major part of making the Cardy-noles feel even MORE uncomfortable in the cold rain – They need to hear nothing but noise when Warner lines up behind center. We need to cheer as if our cheers would put Pete Rose in Cooperstown. (Admit it, you think he deserves it...) This team has never been more worthy of our cheers as they are now. I’m so incredibly thrilled with the performance of this season when it’s compared with the abortion that was last season, and I for one am going to give the ‘Cats all that I can muster, and I’ll be encouraging MY section to do the same, and I’d implore all of you to do the same in YOUR section! This fourth element, when combined with the other three elements, AND the voluminous benevolent karma massing on the side of the home team should guarantee one more splendid, euphoric playoff evening in Carolina. AND-

Make those oddsmakers look like geniuses.

I believe it, Fanz, I BELIEVE IT!



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January 9, 2009

Well, Fanz, after a fairly entertaining WildCard weekend, where I was a mediocre 50%, but dead on in picking the Ravens and Cardy-noles, and dead on in identifying Darren Sproles as a difference-maker in the Chargers-Colts game. I stumbled on the Vikings, but now I think I’ve got the ‘ol clairvoyance gland in prime playoff shape as I now handicap the BIG BOYS-

Here I go-

The weekend divisional matchups start with a real body-bag kind of game between two of the league’s most ferocious defenses. Right now, the Ravens are blazing hot, and I really don’t feel the Titans have an offensive answer for that smothering Raven D. I truly believe that neither offense will be able to put up major yardage, and that field position will be critical, as field goals will constitute most of the scoring. As I thought in the past three games, Ed Reed makes a difference for the Quothers, and will add one more nightmare for Kerry Collins’ Bad Ravens Experiences. And once again, Joey Flacco’s job is not to win the game on offense, just to manage it and not lose it on stupid turnovers. The line is –3 for the Titans, and I’m prepared to make this game a stone-cold mortal LOCK! Ravens straight up to proceed to the Championship game next Sunday!

I know most of us have heard every media talking head and pundit break down this game in every imaginable way possible. Basically the contest pits a powerful AND prolific running team with an explosive element to the passing game, against a team that has relied almost exclusively on an air attack. What’s somewhat annoying is the so-called “experts” proclaiming Arid-Zona’s running game back after a “big” 73 yards from a washed-up Edgerrin James. That’s a total load of horses**t! 73 yards on the ground against THIS Panther team won’t amount to SQUAT! The weather conditions in this night game will greatly favour the running game, in which the Panthers lead the league in so many statistical categories, while the Cardy-noles are near the bottom in the same. It will be tough for Warner to fling the biscuit in the rain, which will be their only real chance for victory. The Panthers don’t have that handicap. They will control the line of scrimmage with the powerful road grading offensive line and with Stewilliams, and the game. And – they are rested and healthy. I’m cautiously optimistic that this game does NOT follow the formula of Week 8’s game- So is Vegas- They’ve given the home ‘Cats a humongous –10 point advantage here! Part of me seems to think it ridiculous, but we are NOT the Duckies, and the Cardy-Noles won’t SNIFF OUR snap count, and we’re at home. All of the matchups and statistics point to a blowout by the fourth quarter. Take the Cats and the big spread!

In Sunday’s first tilt, a much-anticipated rematch of bitter divisional opponents highlights the weekend’s games. Much of the sports media have jumped on the Fleegul bandwagon even though they STILL have a suspect rushing attack. Without the serious threat to run, the rested and healthy G’ints will blitz McSnabb relentlessly. Bryan Westbrook is NOT the punishing back that Brandon Jacobs is, although he’s dangerous in short passing situations because of what he can do after the catch. Don’t think the GeeMen have forgotten what Philthydelphia did to them in Week 14 – A healthy Jacobs makes a difference, no matter what Donavan McSnabb throws at them. Eli Manning won’t have to do much more than hand off the ball to his trio of excellent backs, and the Iggles wear down by the second half. Of course, I’d LOVE to see the Iggles win, because THAT guarantees that the NFC Championship game gets played at the BOFA! But I just don’t think the Giants get beat this Sunday, not in this game, not with so much at stake. The line is –4 for the GeeMen, and I’d implore you to take Big Blue.

The last ticket to the leagues’ Final Four gets punched at Heinz Field as the remarkable Chargers try to continue their torrid five-game winning streak, but this isn’t the Colt’s defense. But the fact that this isn’t the Colts’ yardage-eating offense does help the West Coast visitors. WorthlessBerger is sure to be blitzed and blitzed often, and if Willie Parkers’ running can be slowed, I’d expect this game to be a repeat of the Week 11 schlobberknocker. But at this stage of the season, like the Giants, I’m not feeling an upset here. I think Pissburgh’s defense makes a difference here, but I think the Chargers have enough fight in them to make this a close game, especially if they keep Big Ben on the run, and on the ropes. The Squeelers are favoured by –6, but I like the Chargers to cover.

There you go, FanZ, that’s a scrumptious quartet of picks for yer!

See y’all in the lot for a party worthy of The Tailgating Hall of Fame!

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03 January, 2009



And best of all, HAPPY PLAYOFFS!!!

I’m a day later than I wanted to be due to an angry confluence of a New Year’s hangover, company, a stout chest cold, and a long-dreaded move of my office.

But I’m back and ready to handicap the league’s first round games, and one could make a case for any of these teams meeting up with the Panthers during this Super Bowl Sweepstakes.

Once the debris of the regular season began to settle, I found it odd that ALL home teams were underdogs this weekend! Hmm. Not sure I agree. I now give my clairvoyance gland a kick and boot up and handicap this weekend’s games.

This afternoon finds the red-hot Duckies invading the home turf of the Cardy-noles. While Atlanta has built an impressive 11-5 record, they’ve done it with a strong running game led by you-know-who, and an electrifying passing attack led by you-know-who. I’m sick of just hearing about them. But what the Duckie’s DON’T have is a playoff defense, and THIS Cardy-nole team, with the seasoned veteran Warner at the controls, have the potential to fling the biscuit all over the Duckie’s 24th ranked defense. While the Cardy-noles don’t have a particularly good D, they DO rank in the middle of the NFL’s run defense standings. They may be able to blunt Turner’s rush enough to force passing situations. Plus, on offense, Warner has LOADS of playoff experience. The Duckies, in particular Mike Smith and Matty-Ryan? None. All this adds up to a highly entertaining shootout, that I think favours Arid-zona. The line opened at 2 ½, but has since dropped to a single point for the (&$)#&_@#_ Duckies. The Force stirs in me- A lead pipe lock-

Cardy-Noles straight up, and they will wait to find out their playoff flight path with the results of the Viking-Iggle tilt tomorrow.

Tonight’s contest sets up a potentially exciting reunion between traditional conference rivals, who have met FOUR TIMES, including playoffs, the past two seasons, even though they are from different divisions. Given up for dead four weeks ago, The Bolts found their missing gear in a thrilling comeback victory over the wretched Chefs, and then won their next three. But the victory against the Broncoids last week came at a price- Key RB Tomlinson dinged his groin, and TE Gates messed up his ankle. Without these stalwarts on the Charger “O” at 100%, Rivers is going to have to find other targets for his bullets. One thing that may be a wild card for the Chargers will be diminutive RB Darren Sproles ( 5’6”) who might present a matchup problem. He’s been coming on quite strong as both a back and returner of late and may present a matchup problem for a defense that’s expecting LT. On the defense, the Colts have Freeney AND Sanders there, the Bolts DO NOT have Shawn Merriman. Both teams haven’t run particularly well, nor have they stopped it particularly well, but both teams absolutely FLING it! This, much like the Duckies-Cards game earlier, should be a massively entertaining shootout. It’s hard for me to pick against a healthy Peyton Manning and his relatively healthy teammates in the playoffs, no less. The Colts are favored by one in this game, and I’d be inclined to take it, and Manning finds out if a trip to SqueelTown or the Grand Ole Opry is their fate after tomorrow afternoon.

This game is the first of two on the day that features three of the league’s hardest hitting defenses. It also features a miraculous comeback story, not only for the formely 1-15 Dolphins, but the formerly 6-10 Ravens. If not for the performance of Matt Ryan in Atlanta, Joey Flacco would be the recipient of the Rookie of the year award, and Coach Harbaugh, as far as I know, is still in the running for coach or the year, as is Miami coach Sporano. Both teams have performed well in all phases of the game this season, but the Ravens EXCELL defensively, and they make a difference in this game. They played earlier this year in Week 7 and Balty-Moore CRUSHED them and squeezed the Miami offense to one of their lowest offensive outputs all season. The overrated “Wildcat” formation won’t be a factor in the Dolphin gameplan, because the Ravens won’t be buying it. Flacco won’t have to do much, because Ray Lewis, Ed Reed and co. will do the heavy lifting here. Despite the success for Miami this season, they will have to build a defense AND offense that is more playoff caliber next season. The line is the heftiest of the weekend, at 3 ½. I firmly believe The Ravens duplicate their Week 7 success and go to Nashville, while punching the Colts’ SqueelTown ticket for them.

The final Round One game features two of the top defenses in the NFL. Both have been particularly good at the run, but Philthy has been better at the blitz. When the old fossil Augustus was under center that may have been a liability, but the frequently mobile Tavaris Jackson’s legs might be able to escape it. The Iggles either can’t or WON’T run the ball under Andy Reid’s offense, but the run is the backbone of the Vikings’. If Jackson can utilize the presence of the run for more play-action, they might be able to beat that Iggle blitz, while focusing on Donavan McSnabb with their own decent pass rush, led by Jared Allen and Pat Williams, who ESCAPED the diuretic scandal (so far) this season. The keys for both teams will be patience on offense, and maniacal disruption on defense. Unlike the previous three games, this becomes a low-scoring defensive struggle, which to me favours the Vikings. Both teams have playmakers offensively, but in the playoffs, the ground attack tends to get you farther. Also, in a defensive game, the Vikings have the aptly-named Ryan LONGwell, who is a much better kicker than the Boids’ shaky Akers. The Vikes have a better run game, a vociferous home field advantage, and a date next Saturday night against the Panthers despite being a -3 point underdog at home.

So, according to my prognostication, which was running at 55 percent this year, next week’s matchups should be:


There we go, Fanz! Enjoy the playoff weekend, and prepare to convene in the lot for perhaps the WILDEST tailgate of the existence of PantherFanz!

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