At some point, the Carolina Panthers will lose a game. When that will happen is yet to be seen, but the streak will come to an end at some point.
At this moment, they are the hottest team in the NFL. I would love to sit here and say that any team can rip off eight straight wins, but the fact of the matter is that not every team can. What makes this run so remarkable is that no one saw it coming. When you look around the league at so-called marquee teams, you can see the Denver Broncos, New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks doing something like this, but not the Panthers.
To further my point that the league has taken notice, here is a great fact. Next week’s game against the New Orleans Saints was scheduled for a 1 p.m. time slot, but the league saw the potential for the ratings it will draw if the Panthers continued to win. The game is now scheduled for an 8 p.m. prime time showdown in the Superdome, which is great marketing by the league.
If the Saints happen to beat the Panthers, I can imagine the sports conversations that day claiming that the Panthers were never serious contenders. The media will praise you when you are doing well, but deep down they are waiting for the other shoe to drop so they can bash you in the head.
When the Broncos and Peyton Manning was setting the league on fire, they were the best team in the world; but as soon as the lost their game against the Indianapolis Colts, Manning became he whipping boy that couldn’t win the big game. The same thing happened with the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seahawks after their first losses.
Over the last few weeks, the media have been patiently waiting for Carolina to lose. They called the game against the San Francisco 49ers an un-winnable game because the 49ers were legitimate contenders, but the Panthers went out and got the win. The game against the Patriots was seen as the game where the win streak would definitely end, but the Panthers had other plans as well.
The game against the Miami Dolphins was seen as a “trap game” after the Panthers played two great teams, and everyone figured there would be a letdown against an inferior team. The Panthers didn’t play their best ball that game, but the focus was there when it mattered the most.
The game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the game the Panthers were suppose to lose because they are too young to keep their minds focused on a “sandwich game” with such a big division showdown coming next week against the Saints. The Panthers’ players and coaching staff should get a big round of applause for keeping this team’s minds where they need to be, and that is one game at a time.
Now the Panthers can focus on Drew Brees and the Saints. They have done their part to make this game worth watching. Eight games and counting is quite a stretch and if the Panthers should lose against the Saints, the media should not crucify them and instead embrace what they have done.
Meanwhile, us fans should tip our hats to them, look to the rest of the league and smile. We will smile because we all have seen what happened eight weeks ago when they put the league on notice. Do you Panthers haters really want that to happen again? I thought not.