Jared Fialko

Can Panthers finally join plus-.500 club?

Posted October 24, 2013
Updated November 25, 2013

Like most No. 1 overall NFL draft picks, Cam Newton led a charmed life when it came to wins and losses. He was part of two BCS National Championship teams, with a NJCAA Title sandwiched in between. If you count his redshirt season, his college record at Florida, Blinn and Auburn was a combined 47-6. Forgive him for thinking it would take fewer than 39 games across three campaigns to get on the right side of .500 for the first time in his pro career.

These are the uncharted waters the Newton-led Carolina Panthers are sailing toward on Thursday. With a victory against the winless Buccaneers, they will be 4-3.

The last time the fellas from the Queen City were in such a scenario?
Their secondary got shredded by Larry Fitzgerald.
In the NFC Divisional round.
Of the 2008 season.
Ten days before the presidential inauguration of Barack Obama.
The first one, that is.

Let's put this dismal drudge of defeats into even more perspective. Do you know how many players on the current roster have hung around since that Kurt Warner crushing in Charlotte? Try single digits. Nine. Only seven if you discount players not listed as active.

Where was the NFL's reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year, Luke Kuechly, the last time the Panthers were plus-.500? Fresh off his completing his senior year of football at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he accumulated 130 tackles, a sack and three forced fumbles. By the way, rivals.com thought so highly of him, they bestowed a hefty three-star rating. Another reason why one should always take those snowflakes with a grain of salt. Not too much about this screams "three-star:"

Add 'em all up, and Carolina's streak of .500 or worse stretches 70 games, by far the worst of any team in the league.

Hence, why despite 4-3 not looking like much in the grand scheme of things, it would be massive for this team. Massive for the confidence of their franchise quarterback, who, despite putting up gaudy numbers in his first two years, has been chastised (many would say, unfairly) for his moody behavior throughout this long slump.

Massive for the potential playoff chances for a team, whose fanbase may need it more than any other's. Yes, three weeks ago following the Arizona debacle, "Panthers" and "postseason" together in the same sentences would've garnered a Leslie Nielsen "Airplane!" type reaction.

However, given the state of the current NFC, anything is possible when seemingly every team is flawed. No way the East sends more than one to the playoffs. Chicago has repeatedly proven their ineptitude when Jay Cutler is sidelined. Detroit's defense is shaky, at best, and no-telling how many 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalties Ndamukong Suh will cost the Lions along the way. Last year's No. 1 seed, Atlanta, seems broken beyond repair. The Panthers pounded on St. Louis so badly, they were forced to phone Brett Favre (who looks like he's aged about 15 years in the last 3) about their new quarterback vacancy.

Meanwhile, for as awful as Carolina looked overall against the Cardinals and how vomit-inducing the finish in Buffalo was, on the whole the Panthers have played well. Newton may not be posting Madden '14 numbers, but he's quietly transformed into a more efficient passer. Against St. Louis he missed on only two throws, both of which were catchable balls. His completion percentage of 63.5 is up six points from 2012, and he's on pace for 27 TD tosses, which would be a personal best.

Defensively, Carolina boasts a top-five unit in almost every major category. They allow fewer than 85 rushing yards and 218 passing yards a contest, 4th and 5th best, respectively, and at a combined 302.2 yards per game, that's No. 3 in the league. Most importantly is the scoreboard, which I've been told "don't lie." Their 13.8 points per game allowed ranks only behind Seattle's superb squad.

Safe to say, Thursday night's matchup bodes well for the Panthers' chances to reach the "vaunted" 4-3 mark. If ever there was a team on the brink of madness, it's Tampa Bay. One of only two teams left yet to taste victory? Check. Players ready to revolt and declare mutiny on its head coach, Greg Schiano? Check. Their best offensive weapon, running back Doug Martin, ruled out due to a torn labrum? Check. Heck, biological bedlam with three Bucs testing positive for MRSA (seriously? MRSA?!)? Check. Well, at least it's not raining!

Here's just hoping Thursday's tilt isn't just another in the long line of stinkers the NFL Network has forced upon us this year. Shoot, that Giants/Vikings Monday night game was so pitiful, I'm surprised the NFLN didn't purchase the rights to rerun it!

Currently listening to: Lorde - "Tennis Court"

You've no doubt heard the uber-talented 16-year-old's smash "Royals" by now, but this first cut off her debut album is brilliance, and the official video (which I will not link here for its usage of one George Carlin's 7 deadlies) is simple yet powerful. She's like a mini-Lana Del Rey who hopefully won't blow it on Saturday Night Live like LDR's disaster.

6 Comments

Please to add a comment.

Newest First
View all
  • McLovin Oct 24, 10:41 a.m.

    they should trade for Josh Gordon...Panthers need a super elite receiver as Sir Steve Smith ages. Im looking forward to a W tonight over Tampa!

  • StunGunn Oct 24, 11:10 a.m.

    4-3 might not seem like a big deal, but if the Panthers lose tonight and fall to 3-4, that IS huge, as in a HUGE step back. I really hope the Panthers win this game, but the Bucs beat them twice last year and while the Bucs aren't good, they were good enough to be in the games they lost. The Panthers need to build on their two-game win streak and beat Tampa tonight.

  • NOT sorry for being caucasian Oct 24, 11:35 a.m.

    With upcoming games against Atlanta, at San Fran, and NE this is a must win game if the Panthers want any shot at the playoffs. Still have to play the Saints twice as well. GO PANTHERS!

  • hoodwinked82 Oct 24, 12:13 p.m.

    31-13 Panthers.

  • iron fist Oct 24, 12:18 p.m.

    With upcoming games against Atlanta, at San Fran, and NE this is a must win game if the Panthers... View More

    — Posted by NOT sorry for being caucasian

    Even with a win tonight I don't think they make the playoffs. Cam has improved but not enough for the Panthers to be a playoff team.

  • 6Pack Oct 24, 12:28 p.m.

    Hoping for a win but have an uneasy feeling about the game. The bucs are hungry. Not good, but hungry. A dangerous thing for the panthers.

  • ACC: NC State at Georgia Tech

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Arkansas at Florida

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • PGA: Waste Management Phoenix Open

    Saturday at 3:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Kentucky at Missouri

    Tonight at 9:00 on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. St. Louis

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
Final
ND 77
DUKE 73
Final
SAN 95
CHA 86
Final
NCSU 57
CLEM 68
Final
MEM 70
ECU 58
Final
PHI 89
DET 69
Final
CLE 99
POR 94
Final
TOR 119
SAC 102
Final
MIN 110
BOS 98
Final
ATL 113
BRK 102
Final
HOU 99
DAL 94
Final
NOP 85
DEN 93
Final
NYK 100
OKC 92
Final
SAN 95
CHA 86
Final
UTA 89
LAC 94
Final
PHO 106
WAS 98
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
MIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
NYK
 
8:00pm Tonight
MEM
DEN
 
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
CHI
 
Final
VERM 44
GTDNS 47
 
Final
NAVY 64
AMER 54
 
Final
UMBC 56
BING 68
 
Final
JMU 88
DEL 82
 
Final
RICH 86
DUQ 55
Final
UNCW 82
ELON 65
 
Final
USB 72
HART 66
 
Final
WMARY 100
HOF 79
 
Final
COL 54
LAF 59
 
Final
PSU 63
MINN 58
Final
MAINE 58
UNH 63
 
Final
DREX 65
NE 60
 
Final
FORD 63
RIU 64
Final
SFLA 52
SMU 63
Final
MARQ 70
SHU 80
Final
LSU 64
SCAR 58
Final
UCF 62
TEMPL 86
Final
LONG 64
UNCA 74
 
Final
FSU 82
WAKE 76
Final
CCAR 68
WINT 75
 
Final
OU 84
WRST 76
 
Final
ND 77
DUKE 73
7:30pm Wednesday
GHND 0
HC 0
 
Final
CSOU 77
RAD 84
 
Final
OKLA 81
TTU 36
Final
BRAD 57
DRAK 69
 
Final
BUCK 68
LEH 62
 
Final
WICHS 58
LOYC 47
Final
ILLST 67
MIZST 57
 
Final
PEAY 69
MORE 82
 
Final
SDKST 86
NEOM 64
 
Final
ARST 73
ORST 55
Final
HOU 59
RICE 48
Final
SILL 52
NIOWA 59
Final
NCSU 57
CLEM 68
Final
MEM 70
ECU 58
Final
MIAMI 50
GT 70
Final
PURD 83
IND 67
Final
TCU 61
KU 64
Final
BC 72
LOU 81
Final
MISS 79
MSST 73
Final
CREI 77
STJ 74
Final
SJST 52
AFA 66
Final
ARZ 90
OREG 56
Final
WASH 74
STAN 84
2:00pm Today
PROV
DEP
 
6:00pm Tonight
RUTG
MSU
 
7:00pm Tonight
ARMY
BU
 
7:00pm Tonight
RFLSH
BRY
 
7:00pm Tonight
MERC
CHAT
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIU
CCST
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
COC
 
7:00pm Tonight
UMASS
DAY
 
7:00pm Tonight
FUR
ETST
 
7:00pm Tonight
ODU
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
RMU
FD
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHAR
FATL
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIB
HIGH
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNF
KNST
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLGC
LIP
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
MD
 
7:00pm Tonight
Terriers
MNTER
 
7:00pm Tonight
STET
NKENTUCKY
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAGN
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
STLU
 
7:00pm Tonight
JVU
USCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
VMI
WCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
LATU
WKENT
 
7:00pm Tonight
UNCG
WOFF
 
7:00pm Tonight
DET
YOUNG
 
7:30pm Tonight
GSOUT
APP
 
7:30pm Tonight
TENNM
EILL
 
7:30pm Tonight
GHND
HC
 
8:00pm Tonight
CIN
UCONN
 
8:00pm Tonight
NDST
DEN
 
8:00pm Tonight
SD
MAST
 
8:00pm Tonight
UWMIL
ILLCH
 
8:00pm Tonight
BEL
JVST
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMISS
MARS
 
8:00pm Tonight
TXSA
MTST
 
8:00pm Tonight
PETE
RIDE
 
8:00pm Tonight
SEMIZ
SIUE
 
8:00pm Tonight
TENST
TENT
 
8:00pm Tonight
NDAK
WEBER
 
8:05pm Tonight
SALA
LALAF
 
8:15pm Tonight
TXARL
UGST
 
8:30pm Tonight
ARKST
ARKLR
 
8:30pm Tonight
TROY
LAMON
 
9:00pm Tonight
MURST
EKENT
 
9:00pm Tonight
NCOL
IDST
 
9:00pm Tonight
MIZZ
KENT
 
9:00pm Tonight
GONZ
PORT
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTEP
UAB
 
9:00pm Tonight
GRCN
UMKC
 
9:05pm Tonight
WLVRN
CHIST
 
9:30pm Tonight
USC
COL
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCI
CPSL
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSNO
HAW
 
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
PEPP
 
10:00pm Tonight
SDU
SCU
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
UCSB
 
10:00pm Tonight
UCLA
UTAH
 
10:05pm Tonight
PORST
MONT
 
10:05pm Tonight
SACST
MNTST
 
10:30pm Tonight
CSFU
LBSU
 
10:30pm Tonight
GAELS
LMU
 
11:00pm Tonight
WASU
CAL
 
11:00pm Tonight
BYU
USF
 
Final
NJD 2
TOR 1
Final
WAS 4
PIT 0
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
BOS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
MON
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
WIN
 
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
ARI
 
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CLB
 
7:30pm Tonight
OTT
DAL
 
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
DET
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
NAS
9:00pm Tonight
CAL
MIN
 
9:30pm Tonight
EDM
BUF
 
10:00pm Tonight
SJS
ANA