Sunday, November 2, 2008

What's that hot breath on Panthers' neck?

That hot breath would be courtesy of Tampa Bay and Atlanta, who both won Sunday to pick up a half-game in the NFL standings on the idle Panthers.

The Panthers would have certainly preferred to take the weekend off and also increase their lead in the division, but it didn't work out that way. They got the NFL-mandated break; they also saw their lead lessen.

Check out the NFC South standings now -- Carolina (6-2) leads Tampa Bay (6-3) by a half-game and Atlanta (5-3) by one game. New Orleans (4-4) isn't out of it, either.

Tampa Bay had a really good chance of losing Sunday. Playing a Kansas City team Carolina had creamed, 34-0, a few weeks ago, the Bucs fell behind 24-3 late in the second quarter. But they made the biggest comeback in team history and won in overtime, 30-27.

Atlanta's path was much easier. The Falcons shut out Oakland -- the Panthers' next opponent -- 24-0. The Falcons held the Raiders to a ridiculously low 77 total yards Sunday. Oakland is one of the worst teams in the NFL at 2-6, but the Raiders got so embarrassed in this one I have no doubt they'll play better on Nov.9 when Carolina travels out to California to take them on.

I certainly expect Carolina to get to 8-2 in the next two weeks, what with Oakland and Detroit (0-8) on the schedule next.

But you never can tell. John Fox likes to say that all the NFL teams are a lot closer to parity than even their records show, and you can be sure he will try to make that point all this week. The Panthers can't afford a false step now, not with the NFC South at one of its strongest peaks in years.


Anonymous said...

It was disappointing to see KC blow it against Tampa, but certainly not surprising. The Panthers were not expecting to gain a game on any division team this week given that the opponents have a combined 3 wins between them. No matter what, it all comes down to the Panthers taking care of their own business. They are a game clear of everyone in the division, so as long as they win all the remaining division games and don't lose to anyone they're not supposed to lose to (Oakland, Detroit, etc.) they will be fine. Can't afford to look in the rearview while they still control their own destiny.

Bucster79 said...

The Bucs have already proven that they are much better than your team in head to head competition.
The Bucs also have a few easy ones are their remaining schedule too.
When we win up there next month on MNF we'll clinch the division outright.

Paul said...

Your Bucs are pretty good. Never understood why you'd start Griese over Garcia. We had a pretty big case of the dropsies against you guys but you're right, MNF will definetly show who the better team is and probably will decide the division title. Unfortunately for you, it will be a sad day for you Bucs.

John Donaldson said...

Scott I know we had quite a debate on your old blog site about the Panther's "wine and cheese crowd". I'mm going to the Panthers Raiders game Sunday as I now live in Sonoma,Ca. I'll give my take on which crowd creates the more "fan friendly" environment. Everyone should be able to at least enjoy a game, no matter who you pull for. If I'm not in the hospital on Monday, I'll let you know how it went.