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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