This is the day I traditionally post my forecast of Sunday's Panthers game. But for the only time in a 17-week period, the Panthers don't play Sunday due to their bye week. This is something of a relief, since I can guarantee for once I won't miss the outcome -- I've misfired on the last three Panther games in a row. In the meantime, a few notes:
1) If you missed the "Turning Point" NFL Films show Thursday night on Versus, you need to tune into it Saturday at 5 p.m. if you are a Panther fan. It will re-air on NBC that day, so whether you have cable or not, you can see it, and you should.
NFL Films had coach Ron Rivera miked up for the game -- there's a cool conversation he has with one NFL official in the pregame about Cam Newton -- and also caught some good sideline dialogue involving Steve Smith and others for the Panthers-Minnesota game.
The first 20 minutes or so of the hour-long show focuses mostly on last week's game. I was impressed by Rivera's sideline demeanor. The coach mutters "He missed it" when Olindo Mare hooks the 31-yarder that would have sent the game into overtime, but quickly rebounds and tells Mare "Keep your head up" as he comes off the field. He mostly tells players "Do your job, Do your job" as they head onto the field and comes across as calm and in charge.
The slow-motion highlights, though, are reason enough to watch -- practically every big play Newton and Smith have had all season is shown, and that's a lot of big plays. It's really good stuff. Again, Saturday at 5 p.m. on NBC -- tape it or watch it (the Panther section only lasts about the first 20 minutes).
2) Here's my column from today on the verbal jabs from UNC interim football coach Everett Withers and N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien, in which I call Withers' words silly and short-sighted.
3) Pro Football Talk has an interesting story today about how the Panthers drafting Newton No.1 ended up paying off for Buffalo quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who just signed a big contract. Buffalo had its eye on Newton at No.3, see, and Fitzpatrick then wouldn't have gotten a new deal.
4) Our Rick Bonnell has a nice piece in today's Charlotte Observer about what might have been had the Bobcats opened their regular season as scheduled vs. Milwaukee tonight. I still think there will be an NBA season this year, but I don't think they'll try to squeeze in 82 games anymore -- maybe more like 60-70.