By Michael Brennan
The Panthers will have the opportunity, come Sunday, to match their win total from last season. While fans and players are both discouraged with the season that was thought to hold bigger things for Carolina, there is still some optimism in finishing the season trending up.
The only obstacle between Carolina and another win is the struggling Oakland Raiders. Oakland has finally found some consistency with veteran Carson Palmer under center, but their record doesn’t reflect any postseason arrangements. Oakland features one of the worst defenses in the league, one that opposing quarterbacks have scorched all season. With the way that Cam Newton and the rest of the Carolina offense are playing, that’s good news.
The Panthers are winners of three of their last four games, including wins at home against Atlanta, and on the road against San Diego. A big part of that success has been the performance of Newton, who has not turned that ball over in the last five games. Newton has thrown for over 1,250 yards and 10 touchdowns in that span, not even mentioning his phenomenal contribution in the run game.
The Panthers defense has been especially prolific in their late season surge, allowing only seven points to San Diego last week. Linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis have helped to anchor a lineup that has been riddled with injuries for a second straight season.
Panther wide receiver Louis Murphy and Raiders running back Mike Goodson were traded earlier in the season between the two teams. It will be the first time since that trade that these teams will have faced each other.
If the Panthers storm out of the gates the way they have in their previous games, it will be hard to imagine that they will be beaten during their last home game of the regular season.