The Carolina Panthers will have something at stake this Sunday when they host the visiting Atlanta Falcons. The team that plays its home games in North Carolina is the National Football League’s (NFL) only undefeated squad.
In truth, the Panthers have won all twelve games they have played this season and the last four games they played a year ago. That means they actually have a sixteen game winning streak. It is a source of pride for this squad, but it also means that each time they step on the gridiron to face a new opponent they have to play “under pressure.”
The reality is that it gets tougher and tougher to stay perfect. Players understand that every little mistake or penalty can sabotage the game and lead to a loss. That is pressure. And yet, the Carolina Panthers have seemed to be able to play effectively and without fear, winning games handily over the past few Sundays.
This squad’s young franchise quarterback, Cam Newton, has really elevated his performance and the team he leads has played better, as well. In recent contests, the Panthers have been “lighting up the scoreboard” and routing opponents. They will try to keep the positive trend going this Sunday.
Carolina will be playing host to the Atlanta Falcons, a team that began the season by winning its first five games. There were ominous signs in those early victories, indications that the Falcons were “winning ugly” and not really dominating opponents.
Those indications turned into harsh reality over the past month and a half. Atlanta, once 5-0, started losing and kept coming up on the wrong side of the final score in almost all of its last seven games. The result has been lots of losses so that now, after twelve games, Atlanta has a Won-Loss record of just 6-6 and may find itself on the outside looking in when the postseason begins a month from now.
But the Falcons have more than their fair share of “skill players” and can easily – and suddenly – turn things around in any given game. Franchise quarterback Matt Ryan can once again throw spirals everywhere on the playing field with pinpoint accuracy and the team’s superstar wide receiver Julio Jones can start making plays that lead to touchdowns.
It can happen because Atlanta is a good team that probably needs a single break in a game to “turn things around”. If that break occurs this Sunday, it could lead to an upset that ends Carolina’s perfect season.
The Panthers have already clinched a spot in the postseason so that all they are playing for now is “a perfect Won-Loss record.” There is lots of pressure connected to that. If individual Panthers “play tight,” this team could easily suffer its first loss in front of its own fans.
Courtesy of Bleacher Report