NFL

Carolina Panthers doing it old school

The Carolina Panthers are off to the best start in franchise history at 6-0, a season that has seen this team battle through adversity and doubters. The Panthers are doing it old school with a smash mouth brand of football wearing down opponents and are just a pain to face. The running game has been phenomenal through the first six games and allowed us to play this brand of football.

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We lead the league in rushing yards with 144.7 yards per game and attempts at just over 33 per game it’s just great to see this team frustrate opponents game after game. The best part about it is it’s not just been one guy it’s been the three-headed monster of Cam Newton, Jonathan Stewart, and Mike Tolbert complementing each other nicely giving opponents many different looks allowing the passing game to open up. Here are the stats for each of them to demonstrate the balance and continuity in the running game. Newton has 54 attempts for 245 yards and four touchdowns on the ground thus far in 2015. Jonathan Stewart has taken advantage of becoming the lead dog out of the backfield, he has 101 for a team-leading 423 yards and two touchdowns he is also accounted for 17 first downs.

Although, Deangelo Williams was our franchise leading rusher I think it’s been great for the team and Stewart not having to split carries and allowing him to get in a rhythm and the coaching staff to establish the running game without having to worry so much about getting them both carriers. Lastly, “Tub of GOO” Mike Tolbert is not only a great blocker, but is like tackling a tree making him a great option in the red zone and even on short screen passes. He has 20 attempts for 92 yards and two touchdowns, one rushing one receiving.

This definitely is the best part of our offense, so far this season a credit to everyone from the offensive line to offensive coordinator Mike Shula, who has been under fire over the last couple of seasons with questionable play calling, but it’s time to give him some credit being innovative with the formations and play calls putting this team in the best position possible to succeed on that side of the ball.

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This team also relies heavily on this great defense that has been built since coach Rivera came to the Queen city. This year has been domination by that group led by the ageless wonder Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly flying all around the field and you add budding stars in Josh Norman, Shaq Thompson, Kawann short and many more. Just a nightmare for opposing offenses to face and the last time I checked a good running game and defense will play anywhere a recipe for success the rest of this year and beyond. This team is very special and live by the saying KEEP POUNDING Sam Mills would be proud! Go Panthers!

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MLB

Hunter leaves great legacy

On Monday 19-year veteran and 5-time all-star Torii Hunter announced his retirement riding off into the sunset after a great career. He in my opinion is one of the best outfielders to ever play this game with nine Gold gloves he was a pitcher’s best friend and a hitter’s nightmare making one highlight reel play after another. His most famous play was when he brought back Barry bonds homerun in the 2002 Midsummer classic. One of the best moments in All-Star game history just one of many great moments, Hunter provided while on a baseball diamond.

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He was no slouch at the plate either in 2015; he hit .240 with 22 home runs and 81 RBIs pretty good for a 40-year-old. In his career, he hit a solid .270 with 353 home runs and 1391 runs batted in showing he could do it all just a baseball player. We all know is he had great ability on the field, but something I loved about him was his infectious smile he had whether he was on the field or doing an interview and it didn’t ever seem to leave his face unless he didn’t like an umpire’s call.

He had one of the best attitudes in baseball willing to instill his wisdom with anyone that would listen and also teaching young guys how to be professional on and off the field. He is a guy that I hope will get back into the game somehow after a couple years because he is one of the best baseball minds that is ever played. I think he has had a Hall of Fame caliber career and should be in Cooperstown someday.

He left a special legacy and those who were able to learn and be around him were lucky soaking up all the baseball knowledge and infectious personality he brought to the diamond every single day. That is something unmatched and I enjoyed being able to watch him play. THANK YOU TORII HUNTER!

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MLB

Biggest Factors that will decide the World Series

Then there were two the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets outlasted the rest will battle for the 2015 World Series title. If you had that at the beginning the season, I hope you on a lot of money because for many this came out of nowhere; this is going to be a fitting end to a wild unpredictable Major-League Baseball season.

This matchup pits strength against strength as they both rely on outstanding pitching it just feels like it’s going to go seven games because the these teams are so evenly matched. Here are some big factors that will decide who will win the fall classic.

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Got to score early

As I said, both teams have outstanding pitching, if you get behind early good luck! I give the Mets the edge in the starting pitching aspect with Jacob Degrom, Noah Syndergaard, Matt Harvey and Stephen Matz. They’ve carried the club and I don’t see this being any different; from the Royals perspective, they must do anything they can to disrupt these young guys read them and rattle them maybe play more small ball and try to steal some bases early like they did in last year’s postseason.

However, if they allow the starters to get in a comfortable rhythm it could be a long series for the Kansas City Royals offense. Conversely the Mets are in the same situation facing a formidable starting rotation and a dominant bullpen that can shut down anybody at any time.

Whichever team is able to score some early runs and take the pressure off will be the team to beat. These games will be nail bitters anyway you slice it going to be fun to watch.

Royals must slow down Daniel Murphy

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Daniel Murphy’s price tag has skyrocketed as he has played out of his mind this postseason. He has put up historic numbers hitting .421 with seven homers and 11 RBIs. He set a record with six straight games with a home run just unthinkable when he has done for the Mets this postseason; I think it’s safe to say that they didn’t have Daniel Murphy their situation could be completely different. It would be in the Royals best interest to find a way cool down his bat because if he does what he did against the Cubs the Royals could be in a world of hurt.

Experience

In sports experience plays a huge part in championships and the Royals experience it all last season. Losing in a heartbreaking series against Madison Bumgarner and the Giants. I think that will definitely help them because they’ve experienced that atmosphere and know what to expect going into this year. The Mets haven’t experienced this since 2000, with so many young players  they can’t get caught up in the moment; which is easier said than done. Just play their game and not try to do to much. Also the Royals have had a never say die mentality in both postseasons seeing every possible situation, giving them the edge in this category.

The little thingsTORONTO, CANADA - JULY 31: Alcides Escobar #2 of the Kansas City Royals is caught stealing second base in the fifth inning during MLB game action as Ryan Goins #17 of the Toronto Blue Jays tags him out on July 31, 2015 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Alcides Escobar; Ryan Goins

Since both teams have dominant pitching staffs it’s going to come down to who can play the cleanest games; what I mean by that is no errors, no walks, and  no extra outs just all-around sound baseball. I also think the team that decides to put pressure on the defenses by pushing the envelope stealing bases, bunting maybe even a squeeze will have the edge in the series.Anyway you can gain an advantage is a   must be done because of these pitching staffs.

I know the Mets don’t steal a lot, but I think with Daniel Murphy is so hot and Cespedes a little small ball could open up more opportunities for bigger innings and the ability for their young guys to get comfortable.

The Royals were the kings of small ball last postseason; I think they should take that approach versus the Mets because if they are able to rattle the young guys they could run all over the Mets and catcher Travis d’arnaud who struggles little bit in the caught stealing category. It’s going to be a chest match between these teams, whoever flinches first and who is willing to take chances will win this series no doubt.

Conclusion

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 This series is going to be like a heavyweight-boxing match that will go all 7 games so evenly matched it only seems right. I give the Royals the slightest of edges because they have home field advantage and dominate bullpen not asking too much out of their starters it’s a five-inning game against them if they have a lead.  I am a Braves fan so I can’t bring myself to cheer for the New York Mets, but they deserve everything they have gotten this season Best of luck to both teams!

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Uncategorized

Carolina Panthers get signature win against Seahawks

The Carolina Panthers came into Sunday’s game with a huge chip on their shoulders; facing in their newest rival the Seattle Seahawks in front of the 12th man. It’s no secret the Seahawks have been this teams kryptonite in heartbreaking fashion. Sunday this team was out to do two things end a streak and prove all the doubters and experts we are to be taken seriously. We did that in come back fashion one of the best games in I’ve ever watched, trailing by 13 at one point and nine in the fourth quarter and were able to win 27-23! This game personifies our saying this fan base and team KEEP POUNDING! Here are some of my takeaways from this signature victory.

The 4th Quarter

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In football the money quarter is the 4th it’s when heroes are made or goats to blame. Sunday quarterback Cam Newton engineered two touchdowns in the final four minutes to seal this victory. Put it in perspective, Newton was 12 for 15 162 yards and the game-winning strike to tight end Greg Olsen with 32 seconds left. My favorite part about this whole thing is the fact that Newton is staying in the pocket looking downfield and trusting his wide receivers not just using his legs to burn defenses. It’s so much fun to see his maturity and football IQ continuing to rise every game he threw some absolute frozen ropes where only our receivers could catch them.

We made Seattle’s defense look like the Legion of whom the offense was able to methodically drive down the field four different times each 80 yards the first time in Seattle’s history they have given up to any opponent another feather in our cap. I have to admit it feels good to have beaten them the way we did; making them question every call they made in the fourth quarter, sending them into a tailspin.

He’s back

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The defense got a huge lift when linebacker Luke Kuechly was back in the lineup after missing the last three games with a concussion. He didn’t miss a snap and was absolutely all over the place leading the defense with 14 tackles! He is one of those once-in-a-lifetime players that doesn’t even need much practice to become a nightmare for opponents and allow our defense to take more chances because he usually cleans up our mistakes.

He was also a key in stopping the run as that area started to become exposed, but with him back we were back to our old stifling selves. Kuechly has been just unbelievable and many times hard to describe a huge key to us getting over the hump in Seattle. Man it was great to have his fiery presence back and he wasn’t going to back down from anybody the attitude of this entire team and I love it!

Greg Olsen came up big again

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I feel like a broken record, but every game he seems to come up big Sunday was no different he had seven receptions for 131 yards and the game-winning score. He is the new Mr. reliable for the Carolina Panthers and one of the best tight ends in the NFL right now. He is not afraid to do the dirty work either blocking for running backs and Cam Newton he is the full package! I’ve said this a few times thank you Chicago Bears that is one of the best trades we’ve pulled off in our history and we are taking full advantage of it.

This Team will never quit 

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This team has heart and will never give up no matter who doubts us. Sunday showed that and it’s not a fluke this team continues to develop and absorb the obstacles and body blows we’ve taken the season turning them into positives! We are a force to be taken seriously, I’m really excited to see what we can do with this great momentum and passion that the fan base and this team is showing! Keep Pounding is not just a saying it’s a way of life on and off the field; Go Panthers keep doubting us if you are, but beware this team keeps maturing and getting better and better!

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MLB

There’s nothing better than Postseason baseball

The Major League Baseball postseason has been absolutely insane, thus far with monstrous homers, epic comebacks, shaky defense, and just for good measure some controversy. This postseason shows the growth and parity of America’s National Pastime three of the four teams advancing to the championship series didn’t make the postseason last year.

The Cubs, Mets and Blue Jays have flexed their muscles and proved they belong this year and beyond, but let’s not forget about the Kansas City Royals proving that last year’s Cinderella run was no fluke! Here are my top takeaways from an unbelievable opening round.

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1  Starved fan bases have come out in droves to cheer on their teams

As I said earlier, three of the four remaining teams didn’t make the postseason last year and two of the teams have waited years for their next crack at October baseball. Although their teams have not experienced postseason in a while the fans are definitely not rusty and it’s been amazing to watch the excitement it gives me Goosebumps even though my team isn’t in the fight.

The Cubs were able to celebrate at historic Wrigley Field for the first time in their history absolutely amazing and breathtaking. The Blue Jays also got to celebrate for the first time since the Joe Carter game in 1993. The New York Mets also have waited a while this was their first postseason appearance since 2006; I guess we could say at least someone’s happy in New York. It’s really exciting to see new faces in the playoffs just making baseball even more fun to watch! Little shout out to the Houston Astros as well a magical run that came to a devastating end; however your fans were amazing and have a very bright future!

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2  Pitching and defense win championships

One of the oldest sports sayings in the book came to the forefront in every matchup in the opening round. I’ll start with the Chicago Cubs and the St. Louis Cardinals in game two with the Cardinals already had a 1-0 series lead Kolten Wong a normally shorthanded second baseman booted a ground ball opening the floodgates for the Chicago Cubs to a five-run inning gaining all the momentum which propelled them to a series victory.

Also, it felt like every time the Cardinals grabbed any type of momentum it was taken away by the Cubs getting a timely hit off a relief core that was ranked at times number one in the league and consistently in the top five all year. Those miscues and the lack of bodies were too much for the Cardinals to overcome.

If you’re an Astros fan skip part, they had a 6-2 lead in the eighth inning of the potential clinching game for them. Then it just started to unravel with dink and dunk hits and a potential double play ball going off of Carlos Correa’s glove that would’ve stifled the rally.  The Astros had no one they could rely on coming out of the bullpen and the relative inexperience that is what doomed them and I’m sure in the off-season they will address the back end of the game the way the series played out it will haunt them for a little while. With the Royals having a dominant bullpen turning it into a six-inning game that was the difference in a series. This will continue to be for the Royals, who look to continue to feed off the momentum they’ve created from last year and this.

We thought the Astros had the most devastating series loss nope, it was the other Texas team. First of all blowing a 2-0 series lead and a seven inning to forget it will be in the player’s nightmares forever three routine plays turned into errors leading to what might’ve been the biggest bat flip I’ve ever seen after a moonshot to give them the lead they never relinquished. The series also had a few brawls and unnecessary things from the fans, it had everything.

The last series was the New York Mets versus the Los Angeles Dodgers this one didn’t have the defense miscues, but the pitching was a big factor because the New York Mets were much deeper easily having four starters that you are very confident can go shut down opposing offenses. Whereas the Dodgers just had Clayton Kershaw and Zach Greinke, who are the best in the business, but were exposed in game three when the Mets scored 13 runs. Thus, putting all the pressure on two guys just became too much even though they pitched very well and good enough to win. The Dodger offense wasn’t able to crack the code of the Mets young stars on the mound ultimately deciding the series.

3  The Cubs are here to stay

cubs-101315-getty-ftrjpg_1j5fnhasy2wae1bhs73xrds9r4The Cubs were able to defeat their arch rival the St. Louis Cardinals in impressive fashion. Taking advantage of the conditions in the friendly confines absolutely tearing the cover off the baseball and coming up with timely hitting not allowing the Cardinals to gain any momentum after game one when Lackey shut them down.

Some other big takeaways I had from this series is the maturity of Jorge Soler going four for seven with a home run and the more eye-popping stats for him is he has walked six times his plate discipline has markedly improved since debuting because when he first came up, he would just wave at the breaking ball having noncompetitive at-bats and now he is a force and could be a big X-factor as continued to play. all the young sluggers to go with Soler; this offense looks like a force to be reckoned with. Another key I’ve seen is the unsung heroes coming out of the bullpen Trevor Cahill getting key outs in the postseason continues to build his confidence this was a guy that had a 7.73 ERA and now is getting meaningful outs in October very happy for him. Lastly, with Joe Maddon leading the squad anything can happen he’s been a wizard with this team.

4.  Looking Ahead

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The reality is this is just the beginning of the postseason and both of the upcoming series are going to come down to the smallest of margins. The Mets and Cubs battled seven times this season and the Cubs are 7-0; this may give the Cubs a little momentum, but its postseason and anything can happen. This series is strength verseses strength with the Mets young pitching and the Cubs young sluggers that flex their muscles against one of the better pitching staffs in the league clubbing home run after home run. I’m pulling for the Cubs because I’m a diehard Braves fan and can’t bring myself to cheer for the Big Apple but I’m hoping for a closely contested series that comes down to the wire.

In the American League it’s once again strength on strength as the Blue Jays have an offense that can bludgeon opponents, but the Royals have the best bullpen left and can turn it into a six inning game quickly. They also have the experience and momentum they’ve created both this year and last. I don’t really care who wins the series, but I think I’m leaning towards the Royals due to their dominant bullpen. I hope for a closely contested series and it’s very exciting, I must say hope it doesn’t come down to any more controversy, we’ve had enough to last us until next season.

This has been an amazing start to the postseason obviously I would rather the Atlanta Braves be in it, but it might be a blessing in disguise that they’re not this year because I might’ve already had a heart attack the way these series have unfolded.

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College Football

College football world turned upside down

Yesterday started out as a quiet Monday in the sports world, then it just exploded with high profile stories that came from the college ranks! Here are my takes on each of them.

Florida quarterback Grier suspended a year

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The Florida gator football program was finally returning to relevance and consistency under new head coach Jim McElwain. The team is 6-0 with a huge upset over Ole Miss who at the time was ranked number three the polls a major win to prove they are back. For the good play they are now ranked number eight in the country couldn’t get any better right?

Well a selfish decision has changed the course of the season for the gators and a player’s reputation and future has changed forever. It was announced Monday that quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for an entire year for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.

I’m going to be blunt here I know in college, we all make stupid decisions, but COME ON are you kidding me. There are no excuses for something like this in this day and age, especially how athletes in professional sports have been scrutinized and ridiculed for cheating other players that are clean taking their opportunities. Will Grier has let down his himself, his team and the entire college football world; because sports has worked so hard to get rid of any drugs, aiding performance and now he just brought it to the forefront again and he should feel ashamed of himself!

He had it all leading Florida back to winning football and maybe even a dark horse Heisman candidate. He has thrown all of that away and now the program can’t just focus on football they have to answer questions about him and his decision. His reputation on and off the field is now tarnished, but I hope he learns from this mistake and come back a better person and player for himself and the University of Florida.

The Old ball coach resigns at South Carolina

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The legendary coach Steve Spurrier who transformed the Southeastern conference in college football announced his resignation on Tuesday. That time is a bit of the head scratcher, but in a season that is going nowhere fast he felt it was time for the University to start over and regain their winning culture that Spurrier created! Some people feel he walked out on the program, but I’m glad he is going out on his own terms so many times in sports legends don’t get to leave the way they came in and they’re not thought of as they should be because of the way they left their sport.

Spurrier transformed college football and touched so many of his players lives on and off the field, he will be loved throughout the sports world and his legacy will always live on. WELP, that’s all and I wish the old Ball Coach all the best in whenever he does thank you for your football wisdom!

USC Football is a mess right now

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The University of Southern California football program is in shambles; right now trying to pick up the pieces after having to fire coach Steve Sarkisian who has  been battling alcohol abuse problems.  It’s something that had to be done because it’s been reported he was drunk on the sidelines during games and at school gatherings so I don’t blame them for this at all.  However, I do question  athletic director Pat  Haden  and how he’s running the football program at this time because over the past few years since Pete Carroll left for the Seahawks it’s been a revolving door for USC at the coaching position.  It takes time to rebuild college programs and I don’t think Haden  has given the coaches  in recent times a chance to implement  their philosophies  and create a winning culture.

I hope the next coach is very experienced and has a track record that can help turn this historic around because college football is better when they are winning consistently. Pat Haden is on the hot seat in my opinion his  recent choices have put the  football program in questionable situations lately and  if something doesn’t change think they might be time to look elsewhere.

Conclusion 

College football has definitely been changed by these stories, but this is just going to make the rest of the season more intriguing allow others to have the opportunity to step up and lead these programs to where they want to go this season and the future I’m really interested to see how these situations affect college football this year and beyond!

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Carolina Panthers, NFL

4-0 is 4-0

The Carolina Panthers are enjoying their bye week in the best position possible at 4-0. The last time this team was undefeated was 2003; when we made it to the Super Bowl I’d say that is good karma. Many around the league have called us “the worst undefeated team due to the lack of competition we faced early in the year. My response to that is we don’t make the schedule and the reality is in any sport anyone can win on any day. I will echo head coach Ron Rivera’s sentiments when he said we are not going to apologize for being undefeated.

Critics can say what they want, but it hasn’t been smooth sailing for us, we’ve already faced a ton of adversity with injuries to key players and a young receiving core. The team has shown a ton of grit and determination here’s a look at how we have stacked up against the rest of the league.

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Offense        

The offense came into the year with big question marks due to the loss of Kelvin Benjamin the team’s number one target. Another big concern was the revamped offensive line protecting Cam Newton, who has taken the most hits of any quarterback since entering the league in 2011! Through four games we’ve done an excellent job protecting Newton as our offensive line ranks second in the league right now; helping propel Newton to this MVP caliber start.

As for our young wide receiving core there’s been some growing pains, but they keep developing and becoming more reliable, especially Ted Ginn JR. Our offense ranks eighth in the league putting up 27 points per game very respectable for an offense that had many questions. The one concern I do have moving forward as the competition stiffens if drops continue to plague our offense, but our young guys have stepped up and will continue to develop and get better. Also tight end  Greg Olsen  has been very reliable for this offense he is one of the most underrated  players in the league.

Cam Newton has put this team on his back early on this season with his arm and his legs. He already has nine total touchdowns and just two interceptions, both of which were not his fault. It’s been really fun to watch him lead this offense; my favorite part about what he’s done this far is his footwork has been a lot better. When he has bad stretches he has a tendency to throw off his back foot, causing turnovers that has not been the case thus far in 2015 knock on wood.

 As I said before the offensive line  has been amazing allowing just seven sacks through the first four games of the year and  it’s not a coincidence that Newton has played great. This next stretch of games will test us in every way, but I am really confident in what Newton and the offense has been able to do and I’m ready to watch this team shut the critics up and get the respect this team deserves.

The Defense 

Saints Panthers FootballThe defense has once again been the backbone of the team thus far in 2015. The team ranks fifth in the league in points allowed at 17.8 points per game and have been ball hawks with a +8 turnover margin allowing our offense to have multiple short fields. Cornerback Josh Norman has quickly become elite and is most definitely the best defensive player in the NFL early on this season. He already has two pick sixes and one game saving interception really amazing what he has been able to become and really needs to be paid to make sure he stays in Carolina blue. Josh Norman has helped lead this defense, but we’ve played great team defense overall everyone swarms to the ball keeping opposing offenses from getting into a rhythm.

Just to show you what I mean Thomas Davis has two interceptions Kurt Coleman also has added an interception. Opposing quarterbacks have experienced nightmares when facing this defense. The crazy part about it is we have played most of the season without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly who is still battling back from a concussion. Just imagine when we get him back and Jared Allen gets more acclimated to the system will become an even bigger headache for opponents.

This unit has struggled a little bit getting a pass rush, but the bye week has come at a perfect time for this team getting the opportunity to get healthy and for some new guys to learn the system better. I feel very confident in this group as we head into the most crucial stretch of our season.

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A Look Ahead

 There has been a ton of positives thus far in 2015; I’m very excited to see how we stack up against a very stiff competition we will face the remainder of the year.  In my view we must go at least 2-2  in  the stretch to continue the momentum we built early this season. The next four games we face Seattle we have played tough over the past couple of seasons but have fallen just short. This year  Seattle looks very vulnerable on the offense is either the ball and the Legion of doom looks suspect losing a 17 point lead today versus Bengals and losing three fourth-quarter leads. This is just unthinkable from what we’ve come to expect out of Seattle.

They are very tough  at home so it should be a very closely contested game, but I think things are going better for us right now. Then we get the  Eagles Colts and Packers every single one of them are going to be hard-fought no matter the outcome I like our chances stay in the games  and silence those critics  and prove our worth.  I’m very excited to see how this plays out!  Go Panthers!

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