Five Highly-Anticipated Games for the Carolina Panthers in 2010


I did a piece similar to this last year. It received a pretty good review of mixed opinions, but that’s what makes writing stuff like this fun, because it gives fans of other teams an opportunity to jump in with why they agree, or ask why their team wasn’t among the five chosen.

I try to shy away from inner-division rivals whenever possible, as those games are always met with anticipation. That being said, I should still be able to choose five teams from the remaining 10. Half. That’s not bad. Right off the bat, the Panthers face a tough opponent in the New York Giants on September 12 at 1 p.m.

The Panthers are 4-2 all-time against the G-Men; 3-2 in regular season contests, and they closed out Giants Stadium in spoiler’s fashion. Not only did they beat the Giants in their regular season home finale and final game in Giants Stadium, but they also sucked any last breath of post-season hopes away for Big Blue.

So the NFL did the next best thing it would seem, giving the Giants a sort of rematch to avenge the loss, scheduling Carolina to return to the scene of the crime at the Giants’ new home, The New Meadowlands.

It’s really going to be quite something. A year ago, the Giants had an underachieving defense, a young receiving core, and a bruised running game. To a degree, both the Panthers and Giants are almost on an even playing field.

The Panthers have a young, inexperienced defensive line; a decent defensive secondary, the best running tandem in the NFL, questions beyond Steve Smith at receiver, and just to throw it in the mix, the media’s uncertainty with Matt Moore, who led the Panthers to a convincing victory over the Giants in 2009. New faces on both teams and a new site to play in.

The NFL has scheduled the Panthers to play in East Rutherford now for the third straight year. Four total contests have been played in New Jersey, including one preseason game in 2009.

The next highly anticipated game for the Panthers is a Week Five, October 10th game at home against the Chicago Bears.

There are now at least two reasons relating to former Carolina Panthers as to why this is such a big game. Chris Harris and Julius Peppers.

I know, Harris was drafted by the Bears, so he doesn’t — er shouldn’t really count, but he did play in a Panthers uniform for a couple years, so we can include him.

Peppers however, is the main reason this game is so high-profile for Panthers’ faithful. Drafted in the first-round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Peppers has only known Carolina. He played high school football in North Carolina, went to college and played football and basketball for the University of North Carolina, and was drafted by the Carolina Panthers. He’s been a home-state guy. Until now.

I was talking with a die-hard Bears fan Saturday night, and he pretty much stated that other than spend a lot of money on a couple players in free agency, the Bears really had no draft picks.

Ouch. For the sake of Bears’ fans, I do hope the additions of Chris Harris, Julius Peppers, and Chester Taylor bode well for the Bears.

Chicago’s biggest need on draft day? Offensive lineman. That’s what I was told. I didn’t disagree.

Muhsin Muhammad, Ricky Manning, Chris Harris, and Julius Peppers. All former Panthers to land in Chicago, and play against their former team. Carolina’s all-time record against the Bears is 3-2; 2-2 during regular season contests. The Panthers are 2-0 at home against the Bears.

In Week Seven; October 24, the Panthers play host to their former division rival of the NFC West, the San Francisco 49ers.

San Francisco is a team trying to get back into playoff contention. Head coach Mike Singletary, a former player in the NFL, has been a good dose of what the 49ers have lacked in coaching leadership in recent years.It’s evidenced by the way his defense attacks the ball and pressures the quarterback.

The Panthers’ all-time record versus the 49ers, is 9-7; 2-2 under John Fox. Given that both teams are fairly well-matched (aside from the running game), this should be a very exciting game to watch.

In Week 12; November 28, the Panthers pay a visit to a former quarterback, who is now heading the Cleveland Browns.

Jake Delhomme is probably the only reason why by default, this is one of the exciting matchups of the 2010 season for the Panthers. The Panthers’ all-time record against the Browns is 3-3; 2-0 in games played at Cleveland. Look for the Panthers to raise that record to 4-0; 3-0 at Cleveland.

Last but not least (these games were only listed in the order they will be played — not by rank) I have a choice among the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and Pittsburgh Steelers.

I don’t see the Cards as much of a threat — maybe that’s a trap. It could be an exciting game, but I’ll pass on that one as a hyped game. Plus, the Panthers’ all-time record against Arizona is 6-3.

I hate to have two anticipated games within a week of each other, but when I look at Carolina’s record against the Steelers, it’s a paltry 1-3. But the losing record isn’t what turns me away from that as a highly anticipated game. It’s that Carolina’s record against the Seahawks lends the idea of greater excitement: 2-2.

The last time Carolina played Seattle was December of 2007. It was a home game for Carolina, which resulted in a 13-10 win for the Panthers.

The Seahawks drafted Golden Tate, the receiver whom I lobbied for almost the entire offseason leading up to the draft. So for this reason and the reason that the Seahawks beat Carolina 34-14 in the 2006 playoffs, I will close in predicting the Week 13 game at Seattle on December 5, to be the last of the higghly anticipated games for Panthers fans in 2010.

Carolina’s record at Seattle (post-season included), is 0-2. Will the Panthers break their defeated streak of games played in Seattle?

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