Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are looming large in the rear view mirror. Both teams are one game back. This is the time for the Carolina Panthers to send a message – not only to these two division rivals but also to every team they will be facing down the stretch.
If the Panthers want the message to be received, here are five things to accomplish on Sunday in front of the home crowd:
1. Hit the QB. Unleash Julius Peppers and the pass rush. That’s Daunte Culpepper back there – you know the one. Yeah, the statue. Hit him once. Hit him twice. With the problems that Detroit has had along their offensive line, Carolina should come away with no less than 5 sacks.
2. Pound the Rock! Ryan Kalil is likely out of this game with a nagging ankle injury. That’s no excuse. Off tackle right, off tackle left, DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart. It doesn’t matter how or who, just run the ball. The Lions are 31st in the league versus the run. Running the ball is our M.O. Deliver the beat down.
3. Stop the run. Kevin Smith is looking like a solid pro in the making for Detroit. The problem is that last week Oakland was able to run the ball far too easily against our defense. The Panthers cannot let that happen again no matter how good the rookie is.
4. Get Jake Going Again. That should probably read “Get Jake And Smitty Going Again.” The passing game was absolutely atrocious last week. If any confidence was lost, the team has to get it back early. A solid running game will make throwing the ball a lot easier too. Jake needs to get back into a rhythm.
5. Show No Mercy. I’m not going to blow any smoke here and I’m not going to sugar coat this one. Detroit is a bad team that hasn’t played very well for years. Come away from this game with at least a 20-point win and you’ve done okay. I just don’t see how Carolina isn’t a minimum of 24 points better than the Lions at home. Win by 11 again and all of us are going to start wondering what’s wrong with the Panthers.
This isn’t just a game Sunday. This is when the Carolina Panthers have to begin to step up and make a statement. Don’t just win this game, destroy the opponent and let everyone in your path down the stretch know that you mean business!