16 December, 2008


December 15, 2008

In the past, a tremendous effort like the one put forth by our Panthers against the Bucs last Monday night would often be followed by a thud, a clunker of a game the following week, as it goes with many teams. Many folks in the media and in Panther Nation expected much of the same thing yesterday, with the huge game against the GEEEMen looming NEXT Sunday night.

I did not.

The fact that New York was constantly mentioned, and referenced by the same media and fans, brought forth the same rebuttals from Foxy and Co. – “Our focus is on Denver”, as it should have been. The buzz has been on the New York Giants ever since the end of the Buccaneers game, and has steadily increased in vociferousness daily. But for those of us who had not lost sight on the following opponent, the trends in both the Panthers and Broncoids were apparent, and I didn’t think the game was going to be close. But we STILL had to keep a laser beam focus on the Coloradians, and get them out of the way.

Right again, Cedar Street Seer.

What was great to see was the balance of rushing and passing, continuously keeping that Denver defense guessing, and pure, unadulterated Foxball was the prescription for victory. Greater still to see was the defense SHUTTING DOWN one of the leagues’ more potent offenses. Not once, not after the Broncoids’ first TD, not after they took a 10-7 lead in the first quarter, did I EVER think the outcome was in doubt. I never questioned the coming beatdown, because I believed, and strongly, the mismatches that favoured a resounding Panther victory! I won’t break the game down in this rant as it’s been done ad nauseum over and over by all of the media outlets you pore over after a game like this, and I won’t be telling you anything new. So now, as this version of the Carolina Panthers closes out the season, I again revisit the progress of this team. What’s decidedly different about this edition, over that of the past teams, including ’03 and ’05?

1-The running attack is the best it’s ever been, and that’s also because of the best O line we’ve ever assembled.
2-The offense is producing points at a level that’s also record-setting.
3-The defense, while not as dominating as say the ’03 version, has the center of it’s strength in the linebackers and safeties, and not the D line, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
4-We’ve regained the home field advantage, and in a big way.
5-We’ve come from behind, late in games, to rally, and win.
6-So far, we have managed to handle prosperity, and the white hot spotlight.
7-This collection of athletes exemplify “TEAM”, and there is no shortage of good, veteran leadership. The value of that can’t be overemphasized enough.

Even in our championship seasons, there’s always been a late season swoon where inexplicably, the Panthers would lose two or three in a row, and have to rally to make the playoffs. That scenario just doesn’t exist this season. It’s a rarified event, for the Panthers to be 11-3 with just two games to go. And looking damned good doing it. So, with Denver firmly sealed in the record book for the season, at last, we can start thinking about the Giants.

And it’s put me in a New York state of mind. A week late, to be sure, but now I’ve joined the rest of Panther Nation that was fixated on the BEEEG APPLE right after the Bucs were beaten.

While some would argue with me, I think Gotham is clearly the center of the football universe. Come on, TWO NFL teams call Giants Stadium home! It’s a traditionally difficult place to play, ESPECIALLY in December, where the cold winds swirl about the bowl, and the hostile but passionate fans create a true home field advantage. Ownership has deep pockets and is not adverse to writing big checks for desired players. The market is huge, and is ALWAYS featured in primetime viewing. The media’s glare is continuous and unfaltering on New York teams, and oh, by the way, most of your major networks (not FOX) are based there. Playing a New York team IN New York is always a big deal, and is usually motivation enough for teams going there. And here, here in Gotham City, is where our Panthers are headed in six days for the biggest regular season game of the existence of the franchise. I’m not sure I need to tell you what the stakes of this game are- and how simple our destiny is. With this team we have, the road-grading defensive line, the explosive running backs supported by that line, the leadership of Jake Delhomme, one of the winningest big game quarterbacks in the league, and our hard-hitting safeties and linebackers, we are poised to make one big statement about this team in a season that’s with every passing week appears to be one that has been lovingly touched by a very benevolent karma.

All we have to do is win this game. That’s all. If we win, the NFC path to Super Sunday MUST go through OUR stadium! How incredible, after the wretched stink of last season, would that be! And it’s within our grasp! I no longer think the Giants are the unbeatable juggernaut as the wounded and flawed teams from Philthydelphia and Dallas have beaten them, and soundly. Something has happened to the cohesiveness and effectiveness of the G’ints personnel- and now I’m thinking there’s matchups that are going to favour the Panthers this Sunday Night. This isn’t a team we’re going to get into a shootout with. This is a game that is going to be very, very physical, and one that I believe this team is capable of playing. And it starts with those FIVE GUYS I ranted about last week. IF they can continue the blocking and pass protecting they’ve been providing for the past three games, there’s little doubt about the outcome. There’s one more factor. Our defense will HAVE to make plays, and I think they understand fully what they must do. They’ve done it against four of the NFL’s most prolific offenses, and been victorious. I think they do it again. Of course, the play of Julius Peppers remains the wild card. If he has one of those dominant performances again, it will be tough for the G’ints to overcome us. For the past three weeks, the team has been up to the tasks of increasingly vital games to the playoff push. A dramatic win in Green Bay. A resounding victory at home to the Bucs. A balanced beatdown of the Broncoids yesterday. And now, New York looms. How vital are the next two games to the season? Incredibly enough, should we stumble this weekend, and then collapse to the Saints the following Sunday, there’s a real chance, that at 11-5, we miss the playoffs, depending on what the Buckies, Duckies and Cowpuppies do. I can’t fathom that happening. This team is getting hot at precisely the right time, playing a team that is stumbling at the worst time. Similar to the swirling karmatic flows and eddies of the season, I firmly believe the game favours the Panthers, and that’s not just x’s and o’s. That’s part of the Cedar Street Seer world, of which you live in.

The end is in sight, Fanz! It’s like Dorothy Gale and her Ozian friends exiting the dark forest where the Cowardly Lion lived and seeing the Emerald City for the first time! Except that we won’t be asking any wizard for anything when we get there-


And it will bear itself out Sunday Evening. Godspeed to Dano and James and any other PantherFanz heading to the game this weekend, may you get back safely as we plan the first of TWO playoff parties in the lot while the team-


I’ll be back with the handicap Thursday morning, and possibly some other musings that are burbling.

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