Wednesday, August 24, 2005
The Carolina Panthers aka Chris Jericho
I can’t figure out Chris Jericho. Is he a headliner, or a mid-carder? His arrival to the WWE was celebrated. He was immediately thrust into main event storylines. He won the World Championship. Then, he inexplicably was downgraded to mid-carder where he won the tag team championship and then won the intercontinental championship. He’s as charismatic as any wrestler I’ve ever seen. He’s talented with the mic. He’s an above average ring technician. He has all the makings of a main eventer. Everytime I turn on the TV, Jericho is doing something stupid like hosting a talk-show in the ring. The bottom line with Jericho is that he should always be a title contender and marketed as one of the premier talents in wrestling. The WWE seems to have dropped the ball on Jericho but I expect him to rebound big anytime now.
The Carolina Panthers, like Jericho, are constantly up and down. They went to the Super Bowl two years ago and nearly won. They lost DeShaun Foster, Stephen Davis and Steve Smith to injury last year which led to an abysmal 1-7 start to the season. Jake Delhomme got hot and Nick Goings stepped up to give the Panthers a running game. They won five in a row and almost made the playoffs before losing to New Orleans on the last day of the season.
So which Panthers team is going to show up this year? In the six games after he claimed the starting job last season, Nick Goings rushed for 645 yards. He’ll be sitting on the bench behind Foster and Davis. The Panthers have the deepest backfield in the NFL. Steve Smith was their primary deep threat when the Panthers made their Super Bowl run. They’ll have him back this season. Keary Colbert has been effective as the second wide receiver. With the loss of Muhsin Muhammad, Colbert should play a bigger role in the offense. The Panthers brought in Rod Gardner who will be a good third wide receiver. I like Delhomme a lot. He took this team on his back last season and nearly pulled off a miracle in getting the Panthers in the playoffs. I think he’ll have a big year as Carolina bounces back on offense.
The defense is loaded. The defensive line is as talented as any in the NFL. Julius Peppers is one of the top five defensive ends in the league. Kris Jenkins is one of the top two defensive tackles in the league. The linebackers are very good with Dan Morgan leading the way. Chris Gamble showed he’s capable of being a shutdown corner last year. Mike Minter and rookie Thomas Davis will give the Panthers two formidable safeties. Carolina will not have problems on defense. They underachieved a bit last year but that was the case with the whole team.
The Panthers are healthy and that spells trouble for Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. They were the best team in the NFC two years ago when they almost beat New England in the Super Bowl. They’ll rebound and be the second or third best team in the NFC. The schedule is daunting. As good as the Panthers can be, I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t make the playoffs. They don’t have the luxury of having easy games in their division. Whereas Philly gets the NY Giants (2) and Washington (2), Carolina gets Atlanta (2), New Orleans (2), and Tampa Bay (2). Carolina could go 4-2 in their division but I wouldn’t be surprised if they went 3-3. They get Miami, Arizona and Chicago which should give them three wins. The rest of the schedule features New England, Green Bay, Detroit, Minnesota, NY Jets, Buffalo, and Dallas. The Panthers should do no worse than 3-4 in those games. I think they’ll do just enough to win their division, Junior!
Predicted record: 9-7