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10 Jan 2006

Any Given Sunday: Panthers over Giants

by Ned Macey

The Carolina Panthers and New York Giants faced off in what was expected to be a tense affair. The Giants were slight favorites thanks to home-field advantage and the recent strong play of Tiki Barber. Instead, the Panthers dominated both sides of the line of scrimmage and took advantage of Eli Manning's mistakes to rout the Giants 23-0.

According to DVOA, our advanced statistic that breaks down every play and compares it to league average, Carolina played the best game of any team this year, regular season or postseason. (For more information on DVOA, click here.) DVOA is a stat that is adjusted based on the strength of the opponent, and a good deal of the value of the game came from the adjustment for beating a very good Giants team. The question for the Panthers going forward is how good this Giants team was on Sunday. Were they the 11-5 NFC East champions or a team decimated by defensive injuries and led by a struggling young quarterback? The answer will determine whether or not the Panthers can duplicate their improbable run to the Super Bowl from two years ago.

Team Total DVOA Offense Defense Spec. Tms
CAR 177.7% 34.8% -126.2% 16.7%
NYG -142.6% -104.7% 29.0% -9.0%

On Sunday, Carolina's strategy evoked old-school football: run the ball and stop the run. Running the ball has been a problem for the Panthers all season, and they picked a good time to have their second best running game of the year. Defensively, they were able to contain Tiki Barber, putting the game in the hands of Eli Manning. The result for the Panthers was a dominating defensive performance.

The appearance of a powerful running game gives hope to the Panthers as they head into a matchup with the formidable Bears defense, but it is possible that their success was primarily the result of a weak Giants defense. DeShaun Foster took over as the primary ball carrier after Carolina's desultory loss to the Bears in Week 11. Over the season's final six games, Foster averaged 3.6 or fewer yards per carry -- when he wasn't facing the suspect Falcons run defense.

At first glance, the Giants are an excellent run defense, but injuries to their linebackers have made them very shaky in recent weeks. The Giants finished the regular season with the third best rushing defense in the league according to DVOA. However, by Sunday's game, their only healthy linebacker who had played the whole season was Nick Greisen, a preseason reserve. Even he was suffering from a "burner" and hardly effective.

The Panthers did take advantage of one weakness the Giants defense has shown all year: third-down defense. In the regular season, the Giants' third-down defense ranked 28th in DVOA. On Sunday, the Panthers' emphasis on ball control left them facing a number of third downs. Their success in those situations allowed them to control the clock and, as a result, the game.

On consecutive drives in the second quarter, the Panthers converted five straight third downs that led to 10 points. Admittedly, three points came after a lucky bounce on a short-field punt. In the fourth quarter, Carolina got the ball with nearly twelve minutes remaining and a 20-point lead. Whatever slim hopes the Giants may have harbored were erased by a nearly nine-minute drive that saw three third-down conversions.

The niftiest of the third-down plays came in the second quarter with the Panthers leading 7-0. Facing a third-and-8 from their own nine-yard line, the Panthers properly sensed a blitz. Coordinator Dan Henning eschewed both a conservative run and a pass to the sure-to-be-double-covered Steve Smith. Instead, Jake Delhomme dumped off a screen pass to backup running back Nick Goings who scooted forward behind the left tackle for a first down.

The Panthers' success on third down led to a massive time of possession advantage. The two long drives in the second quarter helped to hold the Giants offense to only three possessions in the first half. In the second half, the offense did its best to give the ball back to Carolina as soon as possible. Four of five Giants possessions ended in turnovers, and the fifth one featured a Jeremy Shockey fumble that was ruled down by contact. None of these drives lasted more than six plays.

The magnitude of the Panthers defensive domination may have been surprising, but John Fox's defense is certainly among the league's best. They rank fourth in overall DVOA for the season and first in weighted DVOA, which puts more emphasis on the most recent games. (Of course, the only reason Carolina is not second is that Chicago played second-stringers in Week 17.)

The defense focused its efforts on stuffing Tiki Barber, who had been on an incredible hot streak. The Panthers frequently brought a safety into the box to hold Barber to short gains. With so few first-half possessions, the Giants were never able to effectively adapt to this defense. Tiki touched the ball on all seven Giants first downs in the first half. Certainly he should be the focal point of the offense, but when every first down play is going to the same guy, you are playing into the defense's hands.

In the second half, the Giants tried to diversify, but they were undone by a dominating performance by the Carolina pass rush and Manning's continued struggles. The Panthers knew that the Giants would have to pass, and they attacked Manning accordingly. Manning was sacked twice in the second half by blitzers, and lineman Jordan Carstens brought him down after a stunt.

Manning had no support from his running game, and he faced constant pressure, but his performance was still inexcusable. For the game, Manning was 2-for-7 on third down with two interceptions. Only one of the completions netted a first down. His first two interceptions were terrible throws. The first one – the now infamous "roll right, throw wildly left" play – came with the Giants down by only 10 points and deep in their own territory. That interception and the Steve Smith end-around on the next play effectively ended the game.

For the season, Manning ranked 21st among quarterbacks in DVOA. The only playoff team with a starting quarterback ranked lower is Chicago. A year ago, the 21st ranked quarterback was Kyle Boller. This doesn't mean Manning has no future -- his DVOA is similar to what Byron Leftwich posted a year ago, and Leftwich enjoyed a very good season before injuring his ankle. Manning has obvious talent and took great strides this year. Nonetheless, if his last name were Jones, he would be just another young quarterback trying to be more like Leftwich than Boller.

While the Giants have an off-season to search for answers, the Panthers head into a rematch with the Bears playing as well as they have all year. The last time they were considered to be playing great football, however, they travelled to Chicago and got manhandled in a 13-3 loss. The solid Bears victory served as the subject matter for a previous Any Given Sunday column.

Defensively, the Panthers should be fine. The switch in Chicago from Kyle Orton to Grossman is a definite upgrade, but Grossman is not even the player Eli Manning is. In addition, as bad as Orton was on the season, one of his better games came against Carolina.

Even with Orton at quarterback, the Bears were able to win by constantly pressuring Jake Delhomme. Delhomme threw two picks on the day and was sacked eight times. Nothing in the Giants game proves Delhomme has solved the problems that plagued him against Chicago. The passing offense has devolved to featuring extended handoffs to Steve Smith in the hopes he does something special. Against the Giants, Delhomme completed a total of four passes to receivers that gained more than 10 yards.

Such a conservative attack was not a problem with Foster running wild, but the Panthers' fate basically rests in his ability to replicate that performance. His next game comes against a team that features a solid defensive line and two Pro Bowl linebackers. Foster's history of mediocre performances, including in big games against Tampa Bay and Dallas this season, makes continued success unlikely. (Foster had 46 yards against Tampa Bay, 68 yards against Dallas, and averaged below 3.5 yards per carry in both games.) The strong game from Nick Goings against New York suggests that the potent rushing attack may have been the result of bad defense instead of good offense.

Foster proved many of his doubters wrong with an excellent game on Sunday. He will need to do so again against Chicago or the fate of the Panthers will rest on the arm of Jake Delhomme. Such a possibility is a scary one for Carolina fans who remember all too well what happened in Chicago earlier this season.

Each Tuesday in Any Given Sunday, Ned Macey looks at the biggest upset of the previous weekend. The NFL sells itself on the idea that any team can win any given game, but we use these upsets as a tool to explore what trends and subtle aspects of each team are revealed in a single game.

Posted by: Ned Macey on 10 Jan 2006

51 comments, Last at 12 Jan 2006, 7:24pm by J.S.


by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 1:52pm

My SWAGGER System (c) tells me that the lack of Respect the Bears are getting has increased their SWAGGER level to almost unbeatable levels. The Panthers are doomed.

by Harry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:03pm

Good article but I'm a little surprised you selected this game. The TB-Washington game seemed to me a better example of "any given Sunday." A few fumble bounces and catches made instead of dropped and the game could easily have gone the other way.

by WeaponX (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:06pm

Clearly your SWAGGER System has a case of Northern storied franchise bias.

by rk (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:08pm

Plaxico Burress disappeared so effectively that his name doesn't even show up in the article.

by Independent George (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:10pm

FO is clearly biased against the Giants because they only get covered when they get their butts kicked. If you were really objective, you'd let Al handle all the Giants coverage.

Seriously, though, thanks for the informative, if painful, writeup. At least this loss saved us from an even more humiliating defeat at the hands of the Bears (and since I live in Chicago, I'd never hear the end of that one).

I am curious about one thing, though - will we be getting updated QB similarity scores in the offseason? While everybody seems to expect Eli to be the next Peyton, most Giants fans would be happy for him to be the next Roethlisberger. I'm also curious as to where Palmer, Simms, Roethlisberger, and Leftwich stand. I'd add Grossman to the list, but given the sample size, we may as well be looking at goat entrails.

by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:32pm

Interestingly enough, I believe one of Aaron's articles this year mentioned that the Bears have the biggest home field advantage w.r.t Defensive DVOA in the league. The Bears defense has played three real games recently, only the Atlanta game being at home. They dominated. On the road against Pitt and GB? Not so much. Should be interesting to see which bears D comes out to play Sunday.

by Jake (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:36pm

You may be right, WeaponX, but the Bears are capable of truly terrifying play when they get angry enough. And there was a reference to the 40's in one of last week's games . . . .

by pawnking (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:38pm

I do not expect to see the Panthers to be able to run the ball at all against the Bears. This will put the game into the hands of Delhome. Take the Bears, folks.

by Sara (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:40pm

I was happy to see the Panthers use Nick Goings as much as they did Sunday against the Giants. They started bringing him in more in the Atlanta game, too. For me, it's partly a general dislike of putting all one's eggs in one basket and partly a real fear of which DeShaun Foster will show up. I'd really like to see Fox incorporate Goings and Brad Hoover against Chicago. Given Foster's apparent fear of plowing into a defender, using the fullbacks might be the Panthers' only hope of establishing a running game.

by mactbone (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:54pm

The Swagometer reading is off the charts! I need ten votes of Respect, stat!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 2:55pm

Good analysis of a complete butt-kicking in every phase of the game. Yeah, that fumble on the punt had an element of luck, but there was also an element of the return man not waving his blockers off soon enough. Rarely do you see a playoff team show such ineptitude in all phases of the game.

The Panthers best chance against the Bears is to win a game 9-6. I expect the Bears, however, to get a turnover or two deep in Carolina territory, and thus score sixteen points or so, while holding Carolina to ten or less. I haven't checked the line on this game yet.

by spenceKarl (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:12pm

"...a good deal of the value of the game came from the adjustment for beating a very good Giants team.

Ned, just curious what the VOAs for the game were.

by Bobby Mozitis (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:27pm

#11, line is bears -3

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 3:36pm

Good analysis of a complete butt-kicking in every phase of the game.

Bears offense ranks in the bottom four in yards, points, TDs and punts per drive. Carolina defense ranks top-3 in yards, points, TDs, and turnovers (INTs, fumbles, and overall).

I'm just sayin'

by Kal (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:24pm

And JonL, this was true the last time the Bears mauled the Panthers.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:26pm

What does the italicized text in #14 have to do with the comment in #14?

by spenceKarl (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:44pm

RE: 16 (TomC)

I wondered that myself.

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:49pm

It means that a "complete butt-kicking in every phase of the game" isn't guaranteed. The Bears offense has been awful, the Carolina defense quite good. It's possible that the Bears offense will get the better of the Panthers defense, but it's not a foregone conclusion, as the italicized quote makes it out to be.

by B (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:58pm

Didn't said butt-kicking already occur, though? I'm pretty sure Will was referring to the Panters/Giants game, not the upcoming one.

by djt (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 4:59pm

#18: JonL, I believe that the butt-kicking being referenced is Carolina over NY, which is not only a foregone conclusion but a matter of historical record.

by djt (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:00pm


by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:02pm

Foster proved many of his doubters wrong with an excellent game on Sunday. He will need to do so again against Chicago or the fate of the Panthers will rest on the arm of Jake Delhomme. Such a possibility is a scary one for Carolina fans who remember all too well what happened in Chicago earlier this season.

Nonsense! You guys are underestimating Jake.

In the 2003 regular season, Jake threw 19 TD's, 16 Int's and had a passer rating of only 80. In the 2003 post season, Jake threw 6 TD's only 1 INT and had a passer rating of 106. Jake is the type of player who actually improves with pressure.

I, for one, do not find the proposition of putting the ball in Jake's hands a scary one at all.

by Terry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:02pm

What's the line on the winning TD being Nathan Vasher jumping a Smith route after Delhomme sets his lock-on vision?

by JonL (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:09pm

Color me corrected.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 5:10pm

Yes, note the paragraph break. I certainly expect a contest on Sunday, but unless the Bears enter playoff turnover hell, I doubt the Panthers will score more than ten points, while I think the Bears will score between ten and sixteen. That said, I certainly wouldn't be shocked to see the Panthers win along the lines of 9-6 or 13-9.

When a team gets physically dominated on the line of scrimmage in the manner the Panthers did against the Bears in November, it is hard to make a case for them being physically superior in January, unless the personnel has changed, like when Seymour returns healthy to the Patriots. Maybe the Panthers had serious injury problems along the line of scrimmage in that game, but I don't recall them.

by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 8:21pm

Will - pretty much same personnel, and absolutely the same personnel on the line. Dan Morgan will probably play the whole game this week, Foster has replaced Davis, and Grossman has replaced Orton. Other than that, it should be the same personnel. The Bears safeties may be a bit rusty, however.
Oh, and Garza (of the only one ACL) will replace Metcalf at RG for the Bears. Garza is a solid backup, and Metcalf was our worst starter on the o-line.
Interesting stat - sacks given up by RT Fred Miller this year - 0.

by TomC (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 9:41pm

Nate, I can't even tell you how overjoyed I was when I heard that Metcalf was "injured" and that Garza would be starting in the playoffs. The single worst thing about enduring that 4th-string abomination against the Vikings on New Year's Day was looking at the replay every time Kevin Williams blew into the backfield and seeing that the guy he beat was not Lenny "Two-Way" Friedman or Steve Edwards; it was Metcalf, the only starter left in there!

And before you nominate Miller for any postseason hardware, remember that it was his man that sacked Grossman in the pre-season and broke his ankle.

by jc (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:24pm

I see most of you fail to realize that the only, and I repeat only, deciding factor in the Bears/Panthers previous game was the two picks Delhomme threw. Without the 8 yd TD drive and a cheap field goal, the Bears only scored 3 pts on the Carolina d. Should Carolina have picked off Orton in the same way, Carolina wins 13-3. They were anemic on offense to say the least.The yardage gained by the Bears on all scoring drives only equals 55 yds. Talk about no respect for the Panthers. If Carolina uses Goings and Foster effectively, they will win the field position battle and we'll see who ends up on the short field. And this time, 3 TD's for Steve Smith

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 10:36pm

First, jc, I explicitly stated that I would not be shocked to see the Panthers win. For Steve Smith to score three touchdowns, however, Delhomme is going to have to be protected better than he was last time. Maybe that will happen, but there isn't much reason to suppose that the Panthers' o-line will this time prove to be superior to the d-line which physically dominated them in November.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 11:36pm

Will, it is not a matter of proving to be superior as much as it is being better prepared. I am pretty sure they will be better prepared this Sunday.
Will Smith get 3 TD's...I doubt it. But I don't believe he will need to as I just don't have any confidence in Grosman. I just do not believe a QB who has only started in 9 games in 3 years and only has 4 TD's to 6 INT's can lead the Bears to a win in a playoff game against the Panther's defense (which I believe is playing every bit as well as the Bears right now).

by Nate (not verified) :: Tue, 01/10/2006 - 11:43pm

I see most of you fail to realize that the only, and I repeat only, reason why the Bears/Panthers previous game was remotely close was the 4-5 drops Moose had. Without the drop of a TD pass and a dropped third down pass that would have taken the Bears well into field goal range, the Bears would have had at least 23 points. Should Moose grow hands, Bears wins 23-3.
See, I can indulge in ex post reimaginings of the game too. Unless Carolina can grow an o-line, the result will be the same as the last time.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:06am

Nate-Hate to tell you but I have it from a pretty good source Fox sprinkled some Miracle-Grow on that o-line the day after their loss to the Bears.

In the four road games prior to the Bears, they ran for 279 yards and Jake was sacked 7 times. Since the Bears game, the Panthers have rushed for 726 yards and Jake has been sacked 7 times (but 4 of them in the Giants game).

I doubt the o-line will dominate the Bears d-line but if you are expecting the same results this Sunday, I'm afraid you will be sorely dissapointed.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:18am

Jerry, that Bears game was an important one for the Panthers; why on earth weren't they prepared? Why does one suppose that they will be better prepared this time, when facing a team which has benefited from a bye week?

There are a few reasons, after all, that home teams have about an 85% winning percentage in the divisional round, and one of them is that the team with a bye tends to be better prepared.

The last contest was not a matter of one side being unprepared, or skilled position players having off-days. It was a matter of a defensive front achieving total physical domination of an offensive line. This is the sort of outcome which is least likely to be reversed.

Mind you, it wouldn't take all that much for the Panthers' defense to similarly throttle the Bears' offense, but the Bears are playing at home, and they did have last Sunday off, so although I wouldn't be shocked by a Panthers' win, I think the far more likely outcome is a Bears' victory.

by Sara (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:23am

Nate - welcome to "if Moose doesn't drop the ball" Hell. Fun, isn't it?

For the last few days I've been remembering the Panthers' 2003 regular season loss to Dallas, when they were thouroughly manhandled. They came back to kill Dallas in the opening round of the playoffs. Whether or not the Panthers win Sunday will depend entirely on which team shows up, but it's worth remembering how easily the players and coaching staff learn from their mistakes (at least in the past). Does anyone think Chicago has anything defensively the Panthers haven't already seen?

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:28am

Also, the Giants suffered from hideous linebacking on Sunday, but the Carolina offensive line certainly didn't demonstrate that it could provide competent pass protection. What leads you to believe they can against the Bears?

I will say, however, that this is the type of defensive contest which could hinge largely on luck, such as who successfully jumps on the oblong ball which is bouncing erratically on the ground.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:35am

Very few teams have anything at this point of the season that other teams haven't seen. It will come down to superior athletic ability and superior execution, with a dose of luck tossed in for good measure. The Panthers looked great last week, but they were playing against a linebacking corps which probably couldn't start in San Francisco, which played right into Fox's usual desire to run the ball and control the clock. There will be no such luxuries this week. It'll be a slugfest, pure and simple.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:38am

Will, home teams do have an 85% chance of winning but if you look at the 2003 post season, you will see that the Panthers won at home and then went on to win on the road 2X: first against the Rams and then against the Eagles. And if you look at their last 8 games this season, all their losses came at home while all the road games where wins. If any team is setup to knock off a home playoff team, it is the Panthers!
As far as some outcome not being likely to be reversed, if I remeber correctly, the Redskins where embarrassed (0-36) by the Giants in week 8 but then easily beat them (35-20) in week 15. A win, big or small, does not gaurantee the same results when those teams meet again!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:48am

Jerry, that is why I used the word "unlikely", and not "impossible". Again, I'd be more impressed if the Panthers had run the ball for over 200 yards against linebackers that should be playing in Europe.

It'll be a tight game in which luck may play a significant role, but I still see a Bears' win in the area of 12-6. If some turnovers are had deep in the teams' territories, then we may see more than one touchdown. Otherwise, it'll come down to field goal kicking, which then becomes an even bigger factor than normal.

Geez, the more I write about this contest, the more I am anxious to see it!

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 12:50am

Make that "had not run the ball..."

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 1:14am

Will Allen - totally. Carolina/Chicago should be a defensive battle like we normally don't get to see.

I'll put it this way - if Grossman can play at DPAR 0 levels, I think the Bears will win. I don't even think he needs to win the game for 'em - he just has to not play stupid and not turn the ball over. Otherwise, it is very much going to be determined by whether Delhomme decides that Nathan Vasher is his #2 receiver again, or whether Grossman decides that Orton needs a second chance.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 1:30am

Kal-So you think Grossman will play a better game than Jake huh. I think you need to reread #22. And bye-the-way, Jakes passer rating against the Giants was...yep, you guessed it, 100!

I doubt it will be that high against the Bears but I also doubt it will be 54 again.

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 2:56am

No, I didn't say that. I said that I think Grossman needs to play at DPAR 0 level. That isn't even mistake-free ball. It's just simply a decent game. Delhomme can play at a higher than that level but I don't think it'll matter if Grossman can play competently, which is really all the Bears need to win.

If Grossman plays like Eli Manning did, it'll be a bad bad day for the Bears. But I don't think he will.

If Grossman gets really stifled, it'll come down to who makes less mistakes. And this is where Carolina tends to suffer some. Carolina has been maddening from a predictive standpoint. That's all I'm saying. If Delhomme plays pretty mistake-free it'll be hard for the Bears to win. I don't think this will happen, but it could.

One thing is absolutely for sure - Carolina will not run on the Bears like they did against the three LBs off the street and the Giants.

by Dante Svalbard (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 8:03am

"Which probably couldn’t start in San Francisco"

Zis iz, how do you zay, ze abzolute inzult - in my country, ve just kick them in ze privates, iz hurting lez zat vay.

by J.S. (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 4:28pm

I think the line on Delhomme on thinking that Vasher is his # 2 wideout agin is 2-6 for.

But what the heck I ain't got nothing else towatch on the weekend and this should be one heck of a defensive battle.

Kal- I think you are wrong I feel that Grossman will have to play mistake free if he does not then that will give the Panthers way to many times to cash in for points. He has to play smart and not get rattled. Maybe Tom Brady can tell him what he uses to stay so clam.....
could probably help Eli as well....

by Kal (not verified) :: Wed, 01/11/2006 - 5:33pm

What Brady uses to stay calm is the same thing that the Bears have - a very strong defense and a good offensive line. Those things tend to calm QBs quite well.

The reason I say that Grossman just needs an average performance is because that's exactly what Orton got. 15/26, 140 yards, 1 TD, 1 int. Also, no sacks. If that kind of thing happens again I don't see how Carolina can win, just because they won't have any short opportunities to win. With a defense like the Bears have, that's really all they need.

by Sara (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 12:43am

Jerry - I'm glad you're a fellow Panthers fan, but please. It's getting a little embarassing. Just because you're a fan of a team doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to admit that said team is maddeningly erratic.

by Jerry (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 12:14pm

Sara-What's getting embarrasing? Is it that I have pointed out that the Panthers, historically, have played better in the post season than regular season or is it that I pointed out that the Panthers are running significantly better since the Bears game than they did before the game? Is it embarrasing that I stated that I did not think a QB who has started in only 8 games and has more INTs than TDs can lead the Bears to a win in a playoff game against the Panther’s defense.

I'm glad your a Panthers fan as well but, please, don't be embarressed by it or by the fans who support them!

by J.S. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 2:01pm

OK KAL I will give that one too you.

They do have a Superb Defense led by Urlacher in that MLB spot. they have a very "Even Keel" coach in Lovy Smith. All the reports that I have heard about him say he basiclly stays the same wether the team wins or looses. and their O-LIne has been decent. Oh lets also mention the fact that they have had one extra week to rest and repair so they will be a healthier team. the only thing that concerns me is that the Media and fans turn everything up and magnify every thing to the point way past obsession in the playoffs and jake Delhomme, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning,Big Ben (i am not going to try and spell his last name I am horrible at typing),and even Matt Hasselback have at least ONE playoff apperance in the past 2-3 years. I am worried that both Grossman and Orton have none, Look at Big Ben last year in the playoffs, he went 14-0 as a starter for Pittsburgh in the regular season and then in the post season went down the drain. this year he looked much better (so far). I feel that maybe it is not the bears year this year but maybe next year. they have the right tools in place but just not the experience.

by Nelphonious of Pennefielde (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 3:23pm

Could it be that VARIANCE can help explain Giants defensive inconsistentcies level of play week by week,and Carolina got them at the right time? Bears high level of defensive play #5 variance means intensity is unpredictable,yet Washington and Pittsburgh rank high @ sustaining levels. So,Skins and Steelers keep their final scores closer than the unpredictable swing with Carolina vs. Bears?!

by Sid (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 4:08pm

Wow. Are those numbers close to the records? -104.7 offense and -126.2 defense!

by J.S. (not verified) :: Thu, 01/12/2006 - 7:24pm

No I am pretty sure that the 49es or texans have had a worse offensive DVOA game since SF averaged just under -45% in Offensive DVOA, however for the defensive DVOA of the Panthers I think that that might just be...