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Happy New Year!

Resolutions, midnight toasts, college football and hangovers.  The New Year brings with it many traditions.  Some are better than others.

While we coast into 2009 it seemed like a good time to look back at some bold predictions for our Carolina Panthers and check their validity.  Back in August we predicted a few events during the final four months of the year (aka the NFL season).  We also have one major prediction from Brian Miller from this past summer.

PREDICTION: Many believe that Jonathan Stewart will be an impact rookie.  But sharing the load with DeAngelo Williams will prevent him from getting the hardware.  I do think he’ll be one of the top 2 or 3 finalists for the award.  Close, just no cigar.

CHECK THE FACTS: J-Stew has had a major impact on the Panthers running game, absolutely.  he started the season looking like the guy who could take the starting job.  He cooled a bit and was dinged up some as well.  DeAngelo Williams stole the show and the rookie didn’t get enough opportunities to tote the rock for serious consideration for Rookie of the Year.

PREDICTION: Despite the suspension, Steve Smith will have a minimum of double-digit touchdowns before the end of the regular season.  In fourteen games, Smitty can do an awful lot of damage.  I’ll even go as far as to say that his numbers may be worthy of the Pro Bowl.

CHECK THE FACTS: Smitty was incredible in those fourteen games.  He managed 78 catches for 1421 yards and 6 TD’s.  The number of scoring catches fell short but he will be heading for Honolulu.

PREDICTION: Julius Peppers is entering a contract year.  My guess is that he’ll end the year with no less than 13 sacks matching his career high and he might even eclipse that number.  He wants the coin and he’ll play like it.  J-Pepp will be back and in a big way!

CHECK THE FACTS: Peppers finished the regular season tied for fifth in the league with 14.5 sacks.  He earned defensive player of the month honors in November for his play.  It looks like he’ll be getting that huge pay day after all.

PREDICTION: So many talking heads just don’t think the Panthers will do a lot this year.  I do.  In fact, I’ve already predicted they’ll win the division with no fewer than 10 wins.  Let’s take that a step farther.  It might not equal a Super Bowl run but I do think this team makes the playoffs and I think they’ll advance at least once when they get there.  Stephen Davis told us the thinks the team will make a Super Bowl run.  I’m not sure I have that much optimism but I do think this team can do some damage.

CHECK THE FACTS: The only part of this prediction that we aren’t sure of yet is how far the team will advance in the playoffs.  A 12-4 record and the division crown already belong to the Panthers.  Time will tell on how far they advance in the postseason.

PREDICTION: John Fox stays put.  The playoffs will mean that coach Fox is not going anywhere.  Come on!!  Stop dreaming of having Bill Cowher and his jaw roaming the sidelines for the Panthers.  It’s not going to happen.  Jerry Richardson knows he has a heckuva good coach and he’s not going to let him go.  John Fox will still be in Charlotte for the 2009 season.

CHECK THE FACTS: Only the San Diego Chargers fire a coach after a 12-4 season (Marty Schottenheimer, anyone?).  John Fox will be around for 2009 and likely 2010 and 2011.

Brian’s Prediction on CCR: “Face it, DeAngelo Williams has never been a very, very good running back.  Is DeAngelo Williams going to be that type of running back that can put four quarters together, carry the ball 20 to 25 times?  Probably not…He has not shown that he is capable of doing that.  Jonathan Stewart is the future of the Carolina Panthers franchise whether the fans of Carolina want to believe it or not.”

CHECK THE FACTS: Anyone who has listened to our podcast knows that Brian felt that D-Will was a good but not great running back.  In 2008 DeAngelo posted 20 carries or more four times, had 19 carries 3 times and 18 carries 2 times.  For the season, he rushed for 1515 yards, 18 TD’s and an amazing 5.5 average.  He also added 22 receptions for 121 yards and 2 touchdowns.  He became the league’s touchdown champ for ’08 with 20.

Topics: Carolina Panthers, Check The Facts, DeAngelo Williams, Happy New Year, John Fox, Jonathan Stewart, Julius Peppers, NFC South, Predictions, Steve Smith

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