2011 Panthers Schedule and Projections
4/19/2011 11:31 PM
Before I go into the 2011 NFL Schedule, I want to say farewell to a legend in UNC athletics. Woody Durham has been the voice of the Tar Heels for 40 years and is retiring Wednesday. Mr. Durham has called over 1800 games for the Tarheels and has been a pleasure to deal with on all occasions. When I was waiting tables at the Conch Café in Myrtle Beach SC during college summers, He and his wife Jean would come in and were the friendliest and most kind people you could ever meet and talk to. Reading the press release announcing this tonight from the University, it reminds you of how long and how many big moments in UNC history have his voice attached to them. I wish Mr. Durham and family nothing but the best as he moves into retirement and I am sure plenty of golf and time with their grandchildren are atop his agenda. Good Luck to whomever comes in and has to try and fill those shoes.
Well the 2011 NFL Schedule was released tonight and Jerry Richardson may have upset someone that sets the schedule based on the first six weeks of the season. Four of the Panthers first six weeks involve a matchup against a 2010 playoff team. Lets take a VERY EARLY LOOK at the matchups.
WEEK 1 PANTHERS at CARDINALS- If there was a team with as much of a QB issue as Carolina, it may have been the Cardinals. A team loaded at WR with stud Larry Fitzgerald, just never could get things going last season. Clausen may have had his best game vs. the Cardinals (13-19, 141 yds, TD) in Bank of America Stadium last season, relying heavily on the rushing game (J. Stewart 27-137 yds). Based on last season’s game, the Panthers have a shot to open the season with a road victory for Ron Rivera’s 1st game, but I am certain sure it won’t be pretty. PANTHERS 13- CARDINALS 10
WEEK 2 PACKERS at PANTHERS- Thank You NFL for this home opener against the defending Super Bowl Champions. A team with a couple extra days to prepare after opening the season on Thursday night at home vs. the Saints is most likely not the team Ron Rivera would have chosen as his opener. This one could get ugly as I don’t see the firepower on this team currently to hang with the Packers. PACKERS 38- PANTHERS 10
WEEK 3 JAGUARS at PANTHERS- This may have been a more advantageous home opener for the Panthers. The Jags need to make the playoffs this season. This could be one of those games in week 3 that will show you how this season will unfold for both teams. Unfortunately, I think the Jaguars will outplay the Panthers in a very close game with a big play late from David Garrard. JAGUARS 17- PANTHERS 13.
WEEK 4 PANTHERS at BEARS- This week will be one in which Jordan Gross will not sleep a lot knowing Julius Peppers will be across from him and motivated to face his old team. The Bears could be 0-3 coming into this game with a lot on the line. BEARS 24- PANTHERS 13.
WEEK 5 SAINTS at PANTHERS- Jeremy Shockey gets a shot against the team that let him go. The Panthers were 0-6 vs. the NFC South last season and I don’t see that changing much in 2011. The Saints will look a bit different in 2011, but the results won’t. SAINTS 27- PANTHERS 21
WEEK 6 PANTHERS at FALCONS- John Fox’s last game as Head Coach was a 31-10 loss in Week 17 last season in the Gorgia Dome. After last season’s early exit from the playoffs, Matt Ryan and the Falcons play the Packers the week before on Sunday night, so that game’s results may have a major impact on the Falcon’s focus, but the outcome may be the same regardless. FALCONS 27- PANTHERS 14
WEEK 7 REDSKINS at PANTHERS- Another opponent with major changes from the 2010 version. Most likely McNabb and Portis will not be apart of the 2011 ‘Skins, so who will be the starting QB and RB in 2011? Shanahan will have a new look Redskins team coming to Carolina and I think this is a game the Panthers can win. PANTHERS 21- REDSKINS 10.
WEEK 8 VIKINGS at PANTHERS- No Brett Favre (as of the writing of this post) so another opponent with QB questions entering 2011. Another opponent that I think the Panthers match up well with. Make sure Adrian Peterson is not the one to beat you and I think this could be a mini-winning streak. PANTHERS 17- VIKINGS 14.
WEEK 9 BYE- It’snice to see the bye in mid-season vs. week 4. 3-5 is most likely not where anyone wants the team to be, but that would be a win better than all of 2010.
WEEK 10- TITANS at PANTHERS- Yet another opponent with QB issues. Much like the Vikings, the Panthers can not allow Titans stud RB Chris Johnson beat them in this game. I think the Panthers can keep it close and hopefully pull it out at the end. PANTHERS 16- TITANS 14.
WEEK 11 PANTHERS at LIONS- Detroit seemed to be a team trying to makea tuern in 2010, but could just never close. Calvin Johnson is a stud on offense and Suh made the Pro Bowl as a Rookie. Another close game, but this team could have some momentum going into this game and win another close one late. PANTHERS 24- LIONS 20
WEEK 12 PANTHERS at COLTS- Any momentum this team may have could be thoroughly derailed versus Peyton Manning and the Colts. Something tells me that Peyton is going all in with the Super Bowl being played on his field this season. Provided the injury bug doesn’t hit Indy again in 2011, not a good week for the Panther faithful. Rivera had some success against Manning while with the Chargers, but the Panthers don’t have Phillip Rivers to stand toe-to-toe with Manning. COLTS 31- PANTHERS 21
WEEK 13 PANTHERS at BUCCANEERS- The first look at Raheem Morris and the Bucs comes in December ,with the rematch only 20 days later. Josh Freeman continues to show growth and maturity. A 31-16 loss last season in Tampa should be a little closer this season, but still a loss. BUCCANEERS 28- PANTHERS 19
WEEK 14 FALCONS at PANTHERS- The Falcons have a short week playing the Jaguars on Thursday night after this game. The Falcons just present so many matchup problems for the Panthers, I don’t see how they win here. FALCONS 28- PANTHERS 16.
WEEK 15 PANTHERS at TEXANS- Going 2-8 in their last ten doomed any chance of the postseason for the Texans in 2010. Andre Johnson is a stud WR and QB Matt Schaub stayed healthy in 2010. The mergence of RB Arian Foster has helped and Mario Williams on the defensive side of the ball is beginning to realize his potential. The Panthers catch a double break with a potential look ahead, as the Texans play the Colts on Thursday night after this game, which is always a big game for both teams, especially this late in the season. This truly is a toss-up game in my mind and I think the Panthers catch the Texans peaking to Thursday night. PANTHERS 16- TEXANS 14.
WEEK 16- BUCCANEERS at PANTHERS- A 20-7home loss in week 2 in 2010 was where we saw Jimmy Clausen for the first time. The Buccaneers will have an extra day to prepare after playing the Cowboys on Saturday night in week 15, but have a potential monster game in Week 17 against the Falcons. The Bucs could have a lot on the line in this game and this could be a rough one for the Panthers in the home finale. BUCCANEERS 24- PANTHERS 13
WEEK 17 PANTHERS at SAINTS- A short week for the Saints coming off hosting the Falcons on Monday night in week 16. The Panthers played a great game last year in the Dome, but came up just short losing 16-14. Depending on what the Saints have on the line in this game could determine how tough the Saints play. SAINTS 24 – PANTHERS 16
How many fans would take 6-10 right now? I tried to give the Panthers the benefit of the doubt in close games this upcoming season, as I think Coach Rivera will bring some things lacking this past season. There is SO MUCH that will change with each team between now and game one of the season. There is still the potential that the lockout could completely eliminate the 2011 Season, but how could the NFL walk away from an opening weekend on 9/11?
Who will the Panthers take # 1 next week? The big debate around town is Cam Newton or someone else. One of the best arguments I have heard regarding Newton is do the Panthers view him as Mr. Right or Mr. Right Now? If he is Mr. Right, draft him, and if he is Mr. Right Now, then look long and hard at Patrick Peterson, the CB from LSU. Rome wasn’t built in a day and this team wont be rebuilt in a season. Franchise QB’s are rare, but after seeing Newton and Gruden together this week on ESPN, I don’t think Newton is a franchise QB. I do think Peterson can be a shutdown corner, ala D Revis with the Jets. A shutdown corner gives a defense a lot of help in knowing they only need to cover half the field. Peterson can also come in and help out with the return game next season, a major issue in 201 for the Panthers. I still think taking Peterson and trying to trade for Carson Palmer and the Bengals later makes a lot of sense. Lets see how this all plays out over the coming months.