My column today was on Julius Peppers and the Bear hug he's been given in Chicago so far, where he's had a dominant preseason. Here's that column.
Now, onto the Panthers. You may have caught the dueling columns Tom Sorensen and I wrote in Thursday's Observer, where I picked Carolina to go 7-9 in 2010 and Tom went with a more optimistic 9-7. As I told Tom in the column, they'll be fitting him for a Catman-style cape soon, he has become so incredibly optimistic about the Panthers the past couple of years.
As for Sunday's game at the New York Giants, here are a few thoughts:
-- You’ve got to think the New York Giants are still smarting from that 41-9 whipping Carolina laid upon them last December behind Jonathan Stewart’s 206 yards rushing. Did you remember that Stewart also had a 53-yard run called back during that game due to a holding penalty on Jeff King?
-- The Panthers’ touchdown drought will end Sunday, but I’m very interested to see if Matt Moore can recapture the mojo he had last December when he threw three TD passes against New York. It’s a little different now – the pressure is far greater. What the Panthers will really ask Moore to do most, of course, is hand off to DeAngelo Williams and Stewart. But can he convert on third-and-7?
-- I don’t see this game as being a blowout, and in fact I think the Panthers’ new crop of defensive ends will harass Eli Manning a good bit. John Fox always seems to have a good game plan against his former employer, too. Ultimately, though, I think the Giants will prevail. My prediction: New York Giants 19, Carolina 17.