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Panthers prepare to face Jets

Author’s Note: Please notice that I have started using footnotes instead of a * symbol to denote “hey, I want to talk about this more” in my blog. I discovered how to use superscript font with HTML today, so some of the footnotes are probably excessive and will be toned down once I am over the newness of my discovery.

This Sunday, the Panthers will try once again to climb back into playoff contention when they travel to the Meadowlands to take on Dirty Sanchez1 and the New York Jets.

Carolina got some desperately needed help from the Broncos on Thanksgiving2, and look to help themselves by defeating the Jets and moving to 5-6 on the season. For the Panthers to have any realistic chance at making the playoffs, they are going to have to win at least 5 of their final 6 games, or will have to rely on several other NFC teams3 to go on losing streaks and end up with sub-.500 records.

The Jets will be a formidable opponent for the Panthers, primarily because they feature a strong running game led by running back Thomas Jones. The Panthers have been noticeably weak in their run defense since losing OLB Thomas Davis to a season-ending ACL injury4 three weeks ago, and teams with strong running games have had success against the Panthers’ defense all season long5.

If the Panthers want any hope of making the playoffs, they must start winning games. It can almost be taken as fact that if they lose to the Jets on Sunday they will have no chance at making the playoffs, because out of their final five games, only one can be considered truly winnable6.

No one knows how the events will unfold on Sunday, but hopefully the Panthers can put another win on the board and get back into the playoff hunt. They’ve come roaring back to make a playoff run in the past7, so it’s not impossible for them to do it one more time.

After all, we don’t call them the Cardiac Cats for nothing.


1 – Jets QB Mark Sanchez. Dirty Sanchez is explained in graphic detail here.

2 – Denver defeated the Giants 26-6 on Thursday night.

3 – Teams that the Panthers have to pass to get a playoff spot: Giants, Eagles/Cowboys, Packers, Bears, 49ers.

4 – They really haven’t had a great rushing defense all season. They lost Ma’ake Kemoeatu in training camp, and until the acquisition of Hollis Thomas a few weeks ago, haven’t really had a stout-enough defensive line to prevent the run this season.

5 – Atlanta, Dallas, & Miami have had the most success running the football against the Panthers so far this season. The Saints beat them with their passing attack, the Eagles relied on a turnover-laden performance from Jake Delhomme, and the Bills just got lucky and caught the Panthers on a bad day.

6 – Their final five games: Buccaneers, at Patriots, Vikings, at Giants, Saints.

7 – In 2004, the Panthers started 1-7, but won 6 of their final 8 games to finish 7-9 and narrowly missed a playoff spot in the final week of the regular season.

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