Last night, Carolina treated Tampa Bay like, well, I don’t know, something you run over very easily. The Panthers rushed for nearly 300 yards (299), using the more successful cousin of the “three yards and a cloud of dust” philosophy, the “8.1 yards per carry and a touchdown nearly every eight carries” (I don’t know why more teams don’t subscribe to that school of thought).
In running over, around and through the Tampa defense, Carolina took control of the NFC South, and at 10-3, gave themselves a very realistic shot at the number-one seed in the NFC.
The Panthers’ next three weeks include games against Denver at home (where Carolina is 7-0 this year) and on the road at New Orleans to end the year. Those two games make a tasty sandwich, with the meat being a battle at the Giants in a Week 16 match-up that is the MONSTEROUSLY HUGE GAME OF THE YEAR MONTH, and will probably end up deciding home-field advantage for the playoffs.
So, yes, this is the 2008 NFL season: a team that was 7-9 a year ago, and is quarterbacked by Jake Delhomme, someone with a completion percentage lower than Kyle Orton and Ryan Fitzpatrick, and a QB-rating below Trent Edwards, could very well be in the driver’s seat to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. Strange times.