Can we maybe dial back the fawning over the Carolina Panthers? They’re the Carolina Panthers – a team with six wins, and a franchise that hasn’t won in excess of eight contests in a single season since 2008. Suddenly, the talk since the Panthers’ impressive 10-9 road win in San Francisco last weekend would have you think they’re the ’76 Steelers or the ’85 Bears. Carolina’s a good team with a strong defense, but if you’re waiting for “Mean Joe” Greene, Jack Lambert, Mike Singletary, or William Perry to take the field, you’re nuts. New England visits Charlotte Monday for its first in-person look at a team surrounded by a boatload of hype. The praise is easy to understand. The Panthers’ stoppers rank second in the NFL in both points (12.8) and yards (283.3) allowed per game. On third down, opponents have converted just 33.9 percent of the time to put the Panthers fifth in the league at third-down stops. The 21 takeaways and 29 sacks (matched by the Patriots, by the way) are awfully impressive as well. Plus, they’ve surrendered only 37 points in four outings at Bank of America Stadium. They’ve got former Boston College stud Luke Kuechly, Greg Hardy, and Charles Johnson. Yeah, I’ve heard of ‘em. With that kind of pressure, nobody should expect a layup for Tom Brady’s offensive line. But how about some acknowledgement of the teams this vaunted ‘D’ has faced? Carolina’s won five straight, capped by that narrow victory in the Bay Area. Of the Panthers’ six wins, five have come against teams with losing records – and these aren’t just a collection of squads sitting a game under. 500. The Giants started 0-6. The Vikings began their year 1-7. The Rams? They dropped six of their first nine. The Buccaneers lost their opening eight matchups. And the Falcons have won only two of 10.
Panthers aren’t as big a challenge for Patriots as you may think
Boston Globe | Nov 18