My best friend is a Panthers fan. In some reality, they were not plagued by the playoff bye week. They continued with the momentum that propelled them throughout the regular season, past the San Francisco 49ers.
They defeated the Seahawks in a rematch from Week 1. And they had a shootout with the Broncos in a wholly satisfying Super Bowl, in which fans on both sides took pride in the fact that their team gave it their all despite the outcome.
But this is Earth Prime, where Carolina fucked up when it mattered most. And it sucks to say it because they were one of the most entertaining teams to watch that didn’t have Peyton Manning on the team, because the Panthers were good on all sides of the football.
One loss, and all of that hard work is as useful as a baggy Magnum. Playoffs are unforgiving. But it all began somewhere…
I managed to see the Cardinals beat the shit out of Cam Newton and the Panthers in Week 5. (hold on, I’m getting there.) It was a frustrating day for them. But they responded by winning eight straight. Their next loss?
Division rival New Orleans Saints. (I’m still getting there.)
Since drafting Cam and building the defense, the Panthers have been on the cusp of greatness. They had beaten some good teams last year, but they were still in the shadow of the NFC South’s latest Super Bowl victory. Despite the Saints strong red zone defense, Carolina endured. The defense kept Drew Brees reeling, notching six sacks and two interceptions.
The Panthers won the game 17 – 13, and while it was hard fought, it was the victory that propelled them to the second seed in the playoffs and proved that Carolina is no longer in the shadow of New Orleans. Now they’re an NFC powerhouse. Well, they were. We’re not talking about free agency. (I’M GETTING THERE.)
Well, I already spoiled it in the stupid intro, but there aren’t other options. Nothing stings like a failing in the playoffs. But the way the Panthers did it was so damn depressing.
The 49ers kept them scoreless in the red zone all game. And despite scoring 10 before the break they suffered a horrendous second half, thanks in no small part to the returned Ahmad Brooks. San Francisco managed five sacks and two picks on that game, ending the best season of the Newton/Rivera era. The Riv-era. Fuck me.
Luke Kuechly. Luke Kuechly! LUKE KUECHLY. Shame on you for thinking otherwise.
The guy must be the spawn of Cthulhu because he’s a monster and he’s everywhere on the field at once. He’s a sure thing to get up the gut and disrupt a play, and his quickness makes him a threat in zone situations. He’s pretty good at covering guys, but not as good as he is at knocking their blocks off.
Kuechly was 4th in the league in tackles with 156, also getting 3 sacks and 4 interceptions. He’s tremendous and only in his second year.
What was a drunk Panthers fan screaming at the TV this season?
“Ron Rivera needs to quit tucking his balls in his asshole and finally start using them! FOURTH AND ONE YOU FUCK GO FOR IT FO GOR IT FOR GO IT!!!!!!!!!”
Forced Pop Culture Comparison
Ever know a functioning alcoholic? That’s the only thing that comes to mind whenever I think about the Panthers play calling. It’s 4th and 1 with less than two minutes on the clock, and what does Rivera do? He PUNTS! I love that the Latino Terminator has so much faith in his defense, but does he realize that he has friggin’ track team lining up behind the center? Anyone of those guys should be able to eek out a yard.
The Panthers make good decisions most of the time and carry themselves well enough day-to-day, but when it gets down to the wire they’re always caught with their pants down and their cocks in the electrical socket. It’s amazing they had the streak that they did considering all of their close games.
Can they still re-sign Steve Smith? Well, surely Brandon LaFell is still under contract. Right? Oh, well, there can’t be much interest in Ted Gi—Oh. Dammit. This is why I’m supposed to stay up on free agency. I might be screwed, but I’m not as screwed as the Panthers receiving group.
Well, they could try and go for Hakeem Ni—no? What about James Jones? The Raiders? HAH! Hahahahahah. Jesus. Well, who else do we haaaaaaave……
Jericho Cotchery? Right… The Panthers need a miracle. Yeah. Can they draft one of those?
An Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2014
It’s tough to say. Carolina did have the pieces in place to do it again this year, but they cut Steve Smith and then got caught doing the dick-socket thing again and lost LaFell, Ginn, and even Hixon.
Unless they draft a star wideout or make a trade for one, the offense will continue to struggle. They also have to address the running back situation. Are they going to keep Stewart, despite his health issues? Or Williams, despite his productivity issues?
Still, they’re good enough and proven they know how to win games; they might not win the division, but they’ll nab a Wildcard spot.
Join us next week when we cover the AFC West!