The Panthers, a squad that is in first place in the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) with a Won-Loss record of 8-0, have not lost a regular season game since the latter part of the previous year. This team has parlayed a stout defense and the leadership ability of its franchise quarterback, Cam Newton, to overcome all competition.
Carolina, fresh off a stunning victory over the Green Bay Packers, will be traveling to Tennessee this weekend to do battle with the Tennessee Titans, another squad loaded with young players and a team that calls the South Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) its home.
The Titans, however, line up behind top rookie quarterback Marcus Mariota and, unlike the unbeaten Panthers, have managed to lose six of eight games played. This team finds itself in last place, two-and-one-half games behind the Indianapolis Colts.
But the Titans surprised the home team New Orleans Saints yesterday en route to winning the game on the road, a major upset for this young squad. The risk facing the visiting Panthers is that the Titans “woke up” when they toppled the Saints and that their superior performance yesterday will carry over to this Sunday.
The contest against a team with a losing record may be thought of as a “trap game” for Carolina, one in which the visitors think they need just show up to win. But in the NFL no team, no matter how well it has been playing, can afford to coast against another team.
The players on the roster of the Tennessee Titans get paid for professional services the same way the players on the Carolina Panthers get paid for professional services. That means that a squad with a losing record can upend a winning team “on any given Sunday.”
It happens every week in every season in the NFL. Teams with losing records “shock” squads that are headed to the playoffs. In the case of the home team Titans, the performance of Marcus Mariota, their young, first-year quarterback, will determine whether or not the Carolina Panthers fly home with another win or their first loss of the season.
An upset of the Panthers, while not expected, would surprise no one that follows professional football. It would also turn this contest into “the game of the week.”
Games like this one contribute to the prominence and popularity of the National Football League.
Courtesy of the Carolina Panthers