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June 25, 2008

One prediction: 10-6, NFC South champs

    The Panthers' 2008 bandwagon is getting more crowded, but at least these guys took a scientific stab at how Carolina will do this season. 

We're talking about WhatifSports.com's look at the NFC South. The website uses simulation software to determine how teams will perform, based on a huge number of factors.

    And the software says Carolina will win the division with a 10-6 record. It also offers an "absolute best record," and for this Carolina team, that would be 13-3.  According to the software program's results, the Panthers will average 25.7 points while allowing 20.5 while taking on a schedule that features only five 2007 playoff teams.

    The site also believes that RB Jonathan Stewart will be the team's most significant newcomer, and even picks him as the NFL's Rookie of the Year. It calls rookie TE Gary Barnidge a possible fantasy sleeper.

    The rest of the division doesn't fare nearly as well. The Saints and Buccaneers are projected to finish 8-8, while Atlanta is targeted for 5-11. And it could be worse for you Falcons fans, Atlanta's absolute record is 1-15.

-- Stan Olson

Posted by Observer Sports on June 25, 2008 at 10:02 AM | Permalink

Comments

One thing I take issue with in the John Fox era is that his teams simply can't handle the pressure. They perform well when nobody expects it, and when they are picked as favorites or sleepers they underachieve. I watched a Patriots team attempt the impossible, and even finished the season undefeated, yet they handled that whole ordeal better than anyone could have imagined and showed up to work. The Colts are perennial favorites every year and they have posted a NFL record 5 straight 12+ win seasons and have won 5 straight division titles. It's confounding on whether this is a coaching or personnel issue, but it has been shown teams don't have to rebuild and can simply reload every season

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | Jun 25, 2008 10:55:46 AM

Why do this? Why?

Posted by: DrewA | Jun 25, 2008 10:56:15 AM

Thats good comedy I dont care who you are!

Posted by: catdawgman | Jun 25, 2008 11:43:27 AM

I can see 10-6. The same website also notes the Panthers will have one of the easier schedules (in terms of opponents' winning percentages last year). So will the rest of our division, because we all play a number of the same opponents with the lower winning percentages. As such, a lot of how things go will be determined by how well we do in the division. New Orleans and Tampa Bay still worry me and it seems like we're always destined to split with Atlanta.

All in all, though, I sort of view the schedule in terms of "probable wins," "probable losses," and "toss-ups." If you assume we'll likely lose a game we should win, win a game we should lose, and go about 50-50 on games that are toss-ups, I see it breaking down like this:

W=Probable Win
L=Probable Loss
T=Toss-Up

@San Diego - L
Chicago - T
@Minnesota - T
Atlanta - W
Kansas City - W
@Tampa Bay - T
New Orleans - T
Arizona - W
@Oakland - W
Detroit - W
@Atlanta - W
@Green Bay - T
Tampa Bay - T
Denver - T
@New York - L
@New Orleans - T

Probable Wins = 6
Probable Losses = 2
Toss-Ups = 8

If we go 50-50 in the toss-up games and lose one game we should have won while winning one game we should have lost, that would put us at...10-6.

Considering the Panthers have shown themselves to be a good road team in the past, I think it's reasonable we might take San Diego by surprise early in the year...or take down a New York Giants team late in the year if they're looking past us or resting players because they've already clinched. We'll probably split with Atlanta to relinquish one of the "probable wins" I listed. And we'd need to hold serve on the rest of the "probable wins" or do better than 50-50 in the toss-ups to maintain the 10-6 record after that.

So, on paper...or, in this case, software...it seems possible, barring injury.

My two-cents,
--Neil

Posted by: NSpicer | Jun 25, 2008 11:59:05 AM

At this point, I see less of a "choke" factor under pressure, and more that Fox has a bad tendency to rest on his laurels. When he puts a good team together, he tries to sit on it, rather than trying to improve it. There's some logic to it that -- the "don't fix it if it ain't broke" approach, but in the NFL, you're like Lewis Carroll's Red Queen -- sometimes you have to run as fast as you can to stay in the same place. When the Panthers try to stand pat, they fall behind.

This offseason we made about 2.5 years worth of upgrades. If 2/3 of them work out well, we've got a shot at another Super Bowl. And a shot is all you ever get -- luck is always going to play a big part.

Posted by: BullCityDog | Jun 25, 2008 12:26:36 PM

This doesn't surprise me at all. It obviously hinges on Jake's health, but as long as we beat the teams we're supposed to that comprise the majority of our schedule(as opposed to the teams we're not, which we've had an easier time of in the last few years), we should be able to get at least the 10 wins predicted. Also, Stewart should definitely be right at the top of the RoY race this year, though I don't know if Barnidge will get much of a chance with Foxy's preference for vets and two established players in front of him.

Mountie, I don't understand your point. The Patriots flopped when the pressure was greatest, getting beat by a team that was vastly inferior to them in terms of talent when it came time to complete that undefeated season.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Jun 25, 2008 1:10:45 PM

Procton,

I believe his point was that the mounting pressure throughout the entire regular season of going undefeated didn't sidetrack the Patriots. No one's pulled off that feat since the '72 Dolphins...not even the '85 Chicago Bears who went on to win their Superbowl.

So, it's a pretty big achievement and the Patriots handled themselves very well even as more and more expectations got heaped upon them. Of course, they also had a pretty easy schedule helping them out...and it doesn't get much tougher for them this year either. Still, they perform even when they're the perennial favorite coming out the AFC. The Panthers seem to disappear when similar expectations are heaped on them.

That's all,
--Neil

Posted by: NSpicer | Jun 25, 2008 1:43:08 PM

WOW, Procton is gettin schooled yet again by NSpicer. Grab a clipboard Procton and keep jotting down stats, cause we've got some real football analysis with the boy Neil on here

Posted by: Nas | Jun 25, 2008 2:07:50 PM

Toss up against the Saints? You gotta stop believing the hype that the Saints are a great team. They have a broken starting running back....over-hyped 3rd down back....1 receiver...and a poor secondary. Don't get me started on the Bears.

Posted by: Brainiac | Jun 25, 2008 2:21:28 PM

Thanks Spicer, I didn't think it was that hard to understand. I said attempt the impossible, and that they even finished the season undefeated. My point was that they went 16-0 in the regular season and strung together 18-straight wins, with each win successively mounting pressure upon the next. That streak was a feat upon itself. No team has ever gone undefeated from wire to wire apart from the '72 Dolphins, so to say they flopped when the pressure is greatest isn't exactly a fair assessment. They put together a remarkable regular season when everyone around them only wanted to mention allegations of cheating and how they stacked against the aforementioned Dolphins. So, in my opinion, the Pats handled the pressure pretty well by posting the most wins in an NFL season without a loss, the first team in major american sports since the late 1800's to start by winning their first 18 games without a loss, and posted one of the most prolific offensive seasons in NFL history. But I guess somehow I must have misconstrued what I was saying, excuse me.

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | Jun 25, 2008 2:21:53 PM

Brainiac,

I hear you. How the Panthers and Saints play when they get together is usually a toss-up for me, though. We'll likely split with them. To beat anyone twice in one season (particularly a division rival) is a hard thing to do.

The Saints had a down year last year. The season before that, they were in the NFC Championship game. So, their expectations are much like ours. They feel like they deserve another shot at it. And they've reloaded in the off-season...particularly by adding Sedrick Ellis. I don't think they've figured out how to maximize Reggie Bush...but they sure do love adding USC Trojans on their roster. Regardless, we'll see what happens. I just didn't feel comfortable listing both of our games with them as "probable wins."

As for Chicago, I agree with you there. They're borderline "toss-up" for me. We get homefield advantage on them (if you believe we even have one). And the game may come on the heels of an opening road loss to San Diego, so the Panthers might get that one more as a "probable win." I just decided to pull a Fox and go conservative in picking what I felt like were much more "probable wins" and "probable losses" than the Chicago game.

--Neil

Posted by: NSpicer | Jun 25, 2008 3:14:32 PM

Mountaineer,

First of all...go Apps!

And I agree. I didn't think your point was hard to understand. In fact, I think it's quite valid. The '72 Dolphins went 17-0, playing just 14 games in the regular season. The Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and then put together 2 more wins for the most consecutive single season wins in NFL history.

In that regard, they have one-upped the Dolphins. But, winning the Superbowl and not caving into that kind of pressure when it's all on the line in the final game is also a big deal. So Miami can still hang their hats on that. But you do have to tip your hat to what New England did, too...especially given the scandal, the high offensive output, and the dynasty they've built over the Belichick-Brady era.

Why Procton wants to make an issue out of it is beyond me. Sometimes he seems to argue just to play devil's advocate or to have someone to quibble with over the minute details.

For instance, his assertion that the New York Giants were "vastly inferior...in terms of talent" is essentially a statement designed to goad more argument. He continually focuses on "individual" talent and disregards what a team can do when playing together...as if the team accomplishment is somehow "inferior" as a result of the so-called talent level being less, which is all based on his assessment of who has talent and who doesn't...or whomever's opinion he decides to champion about who has talent and who doesn't.

Debating Procton on these opinions is like shouting at a brick wall. Eventually you just get hoarse and really you're not getting through to him. So then, the only alternative is to ignore him and go around the brick wall and leave it behind...rather than wasting more energy on trying to tear it down so he can see the light.

My two-cents,
--Neil

Posted by: NSpicer | Jun 25, 2008 3:28:50 PM

I like the 10-6 prediction, I think anything more than 11 wins is a stretch.
The Barnidge prediction is a bit puzzling because, as one poster put it, he is behind 2 established vets and Fox never plays rookies unless it is on D. Of course Stewart will change that. And I am not so sure Stewart will get enough yards to be a ROY candidate, he is behind DWilliams and DW will get half the carries. I have to think we are throwing more since we loaded up on receivers in FA.
If we go 10-6 or better I am praying for another playoff shot at the Cowboys to inflict more postseason pain on their obnoxious fans.

Posted by: Ben | Jun 25, 2008 3:33:59 PM

HAHA Spot on analysis, Spicer. You're on your game today.

Posted by: mountaineerdynAsty | Jun 25, 2008 3:36:30 PM

San Diego~ W
Chicago~ W
Minnesota~ L
Atlanta~ W
Kansas City~ W
Tampa Bay~ L
New Orleans~ W
Arizona~ L
Oakland~ W
Detroit~ W
Atlanta~ W
Greenbay~ W
Tampa Bay~ W
Denver~ W
New York~ L
New Orleans~ L

Giving us a 11-5 season. Circummstances if Healthy.

Jake Delhomme - 3,080 yrds, 26 TD's 12 INT

DeAgelo Williams - 1005 yds, 8 TD's, 1 Fum

Jonathan Stewart - 1110 yds, 12 TD's, 2 Fum

Steve Smith - 1350 yds, 10 TD's

Mushin Muhammad - 680 yds, 6 TD's

DJ Hackett - 940 yds, 4 TD's

Jeff King - 220 yds, 3 TD's

Posted by: paul | Jun 25, 2008 3:50:27 PM

Ben, I think it's a stretch to say that Stewart (health permitting) will only split carries with Williams 50-50. Stewart is a much more complete back who can run between the tackles and get tough yards on 3rd-and-short. And I don't know that the receiver upgrades signal that we're going to pass a lot; that just isn't Fox's game. We'll use the run to set up the pass, only this time, we'll have somebody who can get open and make the tough catch on 3rd and 8.

And Paul, 2X1000-yd. backs hardly happens for anybody. If we pull THAT off, we'll go better than 11-5.

Posted by: Michael Procton | Jun 25, 2008 4:43:34 PM

Paul, your receiving numbers add up to over 3100 yards, are you saying that Moose, King, Hackett, and Smith the only players with any receiving yards

Posted by: matt | Jun 25, 2008 4:52:56 PM

I understand Delhomme will be pitching in a simulated game tomorrow, then a bullpen session on Saturday.

Posted by: Stinger | Jun 25, 2008 5:10:16 PM

Sorry Paul, it is very likely that other qb's besides jake will be throwing the ball

Posted by: matt | Jun 25, 2008 5:10:25 PM

I predict 10-6 as well if Jake stays heathly. If Moose, or Stewie or even D-Will gets injured I think they can still do it, it really depends on Jake. It looks as if they will win it but who nos the south has suprised people every yr.
Lose to, SD, NO once, Bucs once, NY (unless NY rests everyone), maybe the Vikes and GB.

Posted by: C-ster | Jun 25, 2008 5:35:44 PM

Ok, I'll take 10-6 with no major injuries. Could get us a first round bye, and home field in the second round. Get to the Play-Offs healthy, and we should be hunky dorey.
Jake has proven play-off success, with just about the same amount of talent around him as this year. So once we make the play-offs, anything is possible. I am so excited I am almost giddy.

Posted by: iamhubby | Jun 25, 2008 6:14:56 PM

Got so excited forgot to sign off. As always, GO CATS!

Posted by: iamhubby | Jun 25, 2008 6:16:53 PM

Am I the only person that thinks the Panthers will beat the Giants this year?

Posted by: lemons | Jun 25, 2008 6:23:14 PM

HAHAHA Go Procton!!! Pick on the obviously overmatched Ben instead of answering Neil's spot-on rebuttals of your idiocy. Its the path of least resistance all the way for the Great and Mighty Proctologist!!!

Posted by: Steve | Jun 25, 2008 6:57:54 PM

Lemons (great name by the way!),

I'm not sure the game against the New York Giants will be a straight-up contest. It depends on where both teams stand that late in the season. Either one of us could have sewn up a playoff spot and as much home field advantage as we can obtain. So, either team could be resting starters at that point.

And, of course, even if that doesn't come to pass, it's very late in the year. Usually, there's always an injury to someone that factors in towards the end of the season. So it's just too hazy to predict.

::shakes Magic 8-Ball:: Ask again later!

Even so, I did target that game as one of our "probable losses" that we might manage to win (ambushing San Diego in Game 1 was the other one). On paper, if we played them at some other point in the season, I think we'd match up pretty even. So it could be more of a "toss-up" game.

Most of that's attributable to the retirement of Michael Strahan...as that will affect the defense in some fashion. Still, New York should be pretty tough. They've got a LOT of confidence in their offense and defense now just by virtue of their performance on the road during the playoffs and all of last year. I expect them to vie for their division again...much as we will in ours.

My two-cents,
--Neil

Posted by: NSpicer | Jun 25, 2008 7:42:43 PM

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