Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick Panthers-Patriots thoughts

The Panthers head to Gillette Stadium for the first time this weekend, facing a New England team that has lost 2 straight. Both teams eye their opponent as the right medicine at the right time (Carolina likes a struggling Patriots, the Pats like a Carolina team that has had its own issues). Some storylines...
  • Jake Delhomme missed practice again Wednesday with the broken finger on his throwing hand. Matt Moore looks to get the nod at QB, unless Jake makes a quick recovery. Moore said Wednesday that he needs to trust himself more, and go after plays. Good sign that he recognizes that. The kid wants to get better, and knows he may have left some points on the field against Tampa Bay. That can't happen over the final 4 games, given Carolina meets the Pats, Minnesota, NY Giants and New Orleans.
  • Staying with the injury front, RB DeAngelo Williams returned to practice Wednesday--good sign there, meaning Carolina should have both "Double," and "Trouble" for the Pats. Williams missed last week with an ankle injury, and told me on the sidelines being in street clothes "sucks."
  • Defensively, Carolina faces a big-play threat every time Tom Brady takes the snap. Randy Moos and Wes Welker pose big problems. DT Damione Lewis told me on Wednesday that they try not to give up the big play, but if they do, bending is better than breaking. Give them 3, not 6 is the mentality. Carolina had five interceptions against the Bucs, and will need another day like that to neutralize the Pats offense.
  • It's expected to be cold in Foxboro, with the possibility of snow. QB Moore says he's played in the snow "when I was 10, so I'm prepared for that." Funny, but no doubt the game changes when the elements show up. The team that minimizes mistakes (read turnovers), generally ends up getting the "W."

In speaking to some of my media colleagues on Wednesday, we came to the conclusion that this Panthers team could go 0-4 over the final month, or even 4-0. Schizophrenic as they can be, you can never count out a John Fox coached team. They have done more in seemingly worse situations.

I'm not sure they can pull that feat this weekend in New England, however. The Pats are wounded, and fairly unhappy. A grumpy team loaded with talent generally makes for a long day for their opponent. Given the season the Panthers have had, though, they should be a little grumpy, too.

Grumpiest team wins.

Mike Solarte

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