The Carolina Panthers have been out of the playoff picture since the first month…well, not really but it sure seems that way. They have one game left on their schedule, one game left for John Fox, and find themselves once again...RELEVANT!
This weekends game against the Atlanta Falcons has meaning. For two rivals who have played some good games in Carolina’s relatively short existence this game now is more than simply wanting to play smack down with the “Dirty Birds“. In fact, the Falcons won’t be laying down. They won’t be resting their starters or simply going through the motions. No, they need to win and the Panthers can put an exclamation point on their own season as well as one on theirs.
In other words, John Fox can give himself a send off that puts his rival team on the road for the playoffs.Last night the Falcons needed to win in order to secure the first seed in the playoffs. A back and forth battle between them and the New Orleans Saints ended with the Saints on top and the Carolina Panthers in the picture. It comes down to one. Week 17. Atlanta wins and they stay home for the playoffs. They lose and all roads lead through New Orleans and at the center of that are the Carolina Panthers.
This is a statement game for the players. A statement game for exiting John Fox. It’s an opportunity for them to say, “we are not a 2-15 team!”. This will alleviate that 31 to 10 loss to Atlanta at home earlier.
The Panthers should come out and run the ball. Keeping their defense off the field and in turn keeping Matt Ryan and Co. off the field. Ball control and clock control are the keys to a Panthers win. But this game won’t be won on talent or coaching, or anything else that they will go over in the game planning stages at the training facility this week. This will come down to 53 players deciding they want it more than the other team.
The Carolina Panthers are relevant in the final week of the 2010 season. Can they make a statement or will they head into the off-season with yet another failed attempt to be heard?