One year, seven months and three days after the Panthers lost Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos, the Panthers return to the scene of the crime. This time it is not for a ring, but rather to set a tone. A tone for a season ahead is at stake at Levi Stadium this Sunday. Will the Panthers be on point and start out hot or will the team be rusty as Cam looks to work his way back into playing shape? These are questions that only time can answer.
I still say Cotchery caught that ball and that would have very probably made the difference in the game, as the next play was the start of a downhill slide that the franchise has not recovered from as of yet. The very next play saw Cam get mauled by Von Miller and company. That has been the playbook on how to beat the Panthers ever since. More times than not, in 2016, that formula worked as the Panthers fell from 15-1 to 7-9. The offensive line was down right offensive last year and has been the biggest improvement so far this year. If that unit stays healthy in 2017, I see no reason at all for this team to not be playing in Super Bowl 52. Cam is the best player in the league. Maybe not the best passer, but he is the best player. Protect him, and this team goes as far as he takes us.
Other things have to go our way too. The Panthers must be able to get more turnovers. In 2015, the Panthers were plus 20 in turnovers (and led the entire league) and last year we were minus two. That is the difference in winning close games or not winning close games. They also have t be resilient. Two years ago, the team was unflappable. A bad play would happen and they would shrug it off and move on to make a good play. Last year, a bad play would happen and it seemed to start the inevitable demise. At the end of the day, the difference is in the swag. Cam’s swag. I for one want him to bring back the swag and the dab. Sunday sets the tone for a positive run or another frustrating year. Let’s just hope the tone isn’t set by Gano’s kick at the end like it was in Week 1 last year.