It's always cool when the NFL season begins, in part because it always reminds you how last year really doesn't matter anymore. That was the case Wednesday night, when Dallas went on the road and upset the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants, 24-17, in the NFL opener.
"Take a bite out of humble pie, that's basically what it is," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said afterward. "It brings you right back down to earth."
Humble pie will be passed out all over the place this weekend. For eight months, no one in the NFL loses a game, and so optimism naturally runs rampant around the country.
But then, by late Monday night, 16 teams are 0-1 and things don't look so rosy.
The Panthers aren't going to be one of those, however. I'm picking them to beat Tampa Bay on the road Sunday by the score of 27-16.
I think Tampa Bay is one of the few teams Carolina will see all year where the Panthers are clearly more talented, and I think Carolina will be able to run the ball with impunity on the Bucs.
A couple of other notes:
1) You need to pick up The Charlotte Observer Saturday. That's the day our annual preseason NFL section will be in the newspaper. Lots of good stuff coming in there.
2) I'm always asked a lot this time of year what my Panther prediction for the season is. You probably don't remember this, but in 2011, on the eve of the season, I for once got it right -- I picked Carolina to go 6-10 in the newspaper and that's what the Panthers ended up doing.
This year's pick will be found in Saturday's special section. As is usual, me and fellow sports columnist Tom Sorensen will be picking against each other, with bragging rights on the line.
Last year, Tom picked Carolina to go 3-13. But this year he may have an advantage -- he has honestly been around the team a ton more than I have in the offseason due to the way our offseason assignments have worked out.
All that is to say that when you like Tom's prediction more than mine on Saturday -- and you will if you are a Panther fan -- you can feel a little better about him possibly being right. That's all I'll say about it for now.