Cleat Geeks

The Panther Post: Week 7 Likes/Dislikes

At some point, a team that has won 10 consecutive regular season games deserves to start being taken very seriously as a contender for the Lombardi trophy.  With each passing victory, it’s becoming harder and harder to analyze the Panthers with tepid praise followed by “yea, but…”.  “Yea, but” nothing.  I’m not sure how many wins it will take, but make no mistake, this team is 100% legit.  The defense alone will ensure they are in every game they play, and Cam Newton seems to have a knack for making things happen when he needs to with a group of rag-tag receivers (at least the ones not named Greg Olsen).  These are hopeful and heady times for the Panther faithful to be sure.  That said, here is what I liked and what I disliked from the Panthers 27-16 Week 7 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Bank of America Stadium:

What I liked:

  1. jonathan_stewart2Jonathan Stewart.  The 8th year running back from Oregon ran for 125 yards on 24 carries Sunday night showing once again how good he can be if he can just remain healthy.  With apologies to Marshawn Lynch, Stewart was in complete ‘Beast Mode’ on Sunday and opened up all facets of the Panthers offense because of the attention he demanded from the Eagles front.
  2. LB’s Luke Keuchly and Thomas Davis.  I love a good sports argument as much as the next guy, but there are simply not two better linebackers in the NFL right now.  The Eagles were never able to build much momentum in their no-huddle attack because Keuchly and Davis are so fast and so disruptive.  They combined for 24 tackles on Sunday night, often pursuing sideline to sideline to close off running lanes in the Eagles spread attack.
  3. DT Kawann Short.  The reigning NFC Defensive Player of the Week might be set to repeat that award this week.  The 3rd year defensive tackle recorded 3 more sacks and 8 total tackles Sunday, totally destroying the interior of the Eagles line all night.  Three years ago, Short was the “other DT”, drafted in the 2nd round after the Panthers grabbed Utah DT Star Lotulelei in the first round.  These days, he’s making a serious run at All-Pro honors.
  4. CB Josh Norman.  His stat line doesn’t show much, but he had a Superman-like diving deflection of a potential touchdown pass in the fourth quarter that was as clutch as it was spectacular.  It’s a nice feeling for Panthers fans to have a true shut-down corner.  Norman’s interception pace will likely start to slow down a bit as more and more teams avoid tempting fate to his side of the field.  He is as brash and cocky as they come, but he’s backing up every word and every strut.

What I didn’t like:

  1. Cam’s first interception.  With the Panthers already holding a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, they intercepted QB Sam Bradford at the Eagles 21-yard line.  On first down, the Panthers went for the end zone.  Cam hit Ted Ginn Jr. in stride.  Ginn took four steps with the ball.  He was tackled to the ground.  While on the ground, the defender ripped the ball from Ginn’s hands.  Interception.  Wait…what???  After watching the replay I felt relieved because it was so obvious that the call would be overturned and the Panthers would have first and goal at the one.  Wrong.  Call stands.  I now officially have no idea what a catch is or isn’t in the NFL.  I’m not sure the NFL does either.
  2. Cam’s third interception.  With just under nine minutes remaining in the third quarter, the Panthers were clinging to a 21-13 lead.  The Eagles had just scored on a 63-yard Ryan Matthews run and momentum was slipping away.  On third-and-five WR Devin Funchess broke open across the middle with nothing but green grass in front of him.  It looked like an easy pitch-and-catch until Newton unleashed a 120 mile-per-hour fastball that hit Funchess’ hands and bounced high into the air where it was intercepted by Byron Maxwell.  Cam has got to put better touch on passes like this.  It’s truly one of the main things that is keeping Cam from becoming an elite passer.
  3. Victories in the NFL are hard to come by.  Double-digit victories even harder.  So why does the Panthers 11-point win feel like they didn’t play as well as they are capable of?  I’m going to take it as a good sign, but I didn’t have to like it.

Looking ahead to Week 8:cam-newton-carolina-panthers-VS-indianapolis-colts

The Panthers will host the reeling Indianapolis Colts on Monday Night Football next week.  The Colts fell behind 27-0 at home to New Orleans last week before making the final score look respectable with three late touchdowns.  The Colts have lost two straight games, but still lead the putrid AFC South with a 3-4 record.  The Colts three wins have come by 2 points vs. Tennessee, by 3 points over Jacksonville, and by 7 over Houston.  Yes, they played competitive football in Week 6 vs. New England, but their botched “fake” punt inevitably sealed their fate.  The Colts still have numerous weapons on offense, and they might be feeling a sense of desperation until they realize they play in the AFC South where winning is completely optional.  I just don’t think the Colts offensive line will be able to handle the defensive front of the Panthers.  Let’s call it 27-19 Panthers.

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