Looking ahead

It’s just been a great week for sports in my house. My Carolina TarHeels gave the NC State Wolfpack a little spankin’ on Saturday afternoon and then the Panthers schooled the New Jersey York Giants up at the Meadowlands yesterday.

If the intensity and teamwork that the Heels showed on Saturday is any indicator of how the rest of their ACC schedule is going to go, I feel great about the remainder of the season. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been behind my boys all the way. They’ve had an excellent couple of weeks of playing, but now it’s conference time, and everyone knows that the level of competition in the ACC is second to none. The polls should see a good shuffle around when they’re released later today. Number one Duke embarassed 23rd ranked Wake Forest in a 82-64 win on the road and an unranked Georgia Tech team squeaked out a win at home against #11 Boston College. See why I love the ACC yet? OK, enough on that…

The Panthers. I don’t think I’ve documented it anywhere on this site, but it’s been a transitional season for me. During the pre-season, I was on the fence: the Titans/Panthers fence. A couple of weeks into the regular season after watching games from both teams, I knew where my loyalty was headed. Since about week six or seven, I’ve been a full-on Panthers fan. Slow down before you call me a bandwagon jumper. I’ve never hated the Carolina team, I just wasn’t as quick to join everyone else who immediately became a Carolina fan when we got the franchise about 10 years ago. Two years ago when the Panthers won their conference and made it the Super Bowl, I was right there with everyone else cheering them on. OK, enough about that. Yahoo! Sports’ Cris Carter thinks that the fact that Carolina (and Washington) have been playing to stay alive the past few weeks is going to be both a hurt and a catalyst this coming weekend, and I have to say that I agree for the most part. He makes some good notes in his article Common D-nominator if you care to read it.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s rematch of the Week 11 game. Carolina’s offense really did produce in that game, but Delhomme had a pair of costly interceptions and the team made several other mistakes that could’ve very well changed the outcome of that game. I know one thing for certain: this isn’t nearly the same Carolina team that travelled to Chicago eight weeks ago. They’re stronger, smarter, safer, and they have to win. It’ll probably be a low scoring game – less than 20 points between the two teams is my guess – but my Panthers will prevail.