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January 02, 2006

'What's the deal with this team?'

In the Georgia Dome press box Sunday, a writer from Tampa might have best summarized the Carolina Panthers with a question.

"What’s the deal with this team?’’ he said. "I saw them a few weeks ago and they were terrible. (On Sunday) they look like they could beat anybody.’’

That’s the Panthers in a nutshell.

When they’re on, they’re very good. When they’re not, they’re mediocre. But that’s why they’re one of the most interesting teams in the playoffs.

If the good Carolina team shows up, anything is possible. It won’t be easy to go on the road three times and win, but the Panthers have as much talent as any other team in the NFC and, if they play to their potential, anything is possible.

TELLING STAT. If there’s one statistic that tells the story of Carolina’s defense this season, it’s this: In the five games the Panthers lost, they let opponents run for an average of 139 yards. In their 11 wins, opponents averaged 70 yards on the ground.

FINAL RANKINGS. Here are the final rankings for Carolina’s offense and defense.

The defense ranked third overall in the NFL. The run defense was fourth and the pass defense ninth. The offense was No. 22 overall. The rushing offense was No. 19 and the passing offense was No. 17.

MORE NUMBERS. The Panthers led the NFC in turnover differential with a +16. The Panthers had 42 takeaways (23 interceptions and 19 fumble recoveries). They had 26 giveaways (16 interceptions and 10 fumbles). ... Wide receiver Steve Smith was the most productive non-running back when it came to total yards from scrimmage. Smith finished the regular season with 1,588 yards to tie with Oakland running back LaMont Jordan for ninth in the league. The eight players ahead of Smith and Jordan were running backs. ... Jason Baker led the NFC in net punting average (38.9 yards).

Posted by Observer Sports on January 2, 2006 at 05:19 PM | Permalink

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