All right, so the Carolina Panthers lost 34-28 in overtime to the New York Giants, thus losing their chance to have the road to the Super Bowl out of the NFC hit Interstate 77 and go through Charlotte.
But is this necessarily a bad thing?
A team that has been flying under the radar all season long — credit for which likely still comes from those two unflattering wins over Oakland and Detroit — now won’t have the bullseye on its back as the conference’s No. 1 seed with home field advantage through the playoffs.
Well, OK then. Back to being under the radar. Nice to be back.
OK, so it’s not likely the Panthers are going to be overlooked the rest of the season, even if they fall all the way to the fifth seed in the NFC, which is still very possible. They only locked up a playoff bid on Staurday night when Dallas lost to Baltimore, and Atlanta can still take the NFC South division crown depending on how things shake out in the final week.
So while the Panthers had some questionable play calls down the stretch against the Giants, had to endure the agony of a wind-blown miss of a 50-yard field goal to win it off the foot of John Kasay, and constantly got killed on the same run play by Derrick Ward (hint: they’re pulling a lineman and blocking the linebacker…ssssshhhhhhh), all is not lost.
The Carolina Panthers are no longer the favorites to win the NFC and reach the Super Bowl. Heck, they might not even be good enough to win their own division, and could be forced to the road for three games just to even sniff the big game.
So the pressure is off, just like it has been all season long. A season in which the Panthers have won 11 games and found their stars of the future through a few well-planned drafts.
Now they can just go play like they have played all season. And maybe they’ll get another crack at the Giants just like the Giants got a second chance at the New England Patriots last year.
The Panthers are 8-0 this season at home? And just 3-4 away from Charlotte?