Two division-leading squads are preparing to face off against one another this weekend. But, while both teams find themselves in first place, there is a huge difference separating them.
The Indianapolis Colts, a squad led by third year franchise quarterback Andrew Luck are the current leaders of the South Division in the American Football Conference (AFC). But Luck has not played well so far this season. His supporting cast has been mediocre, as well. As a result, this “first place team” has a disappointing Won-Loss record of 3-4.
The Carolina Panthers, a young and rapidly-improving squad that plays in the South Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) are a first place team, as well. However, this dynamic young squad sports a commendable Won-Loss record of 6-0.
The Panthers, like the Colts, have a franchise quarterback, Cam Newton. But Newton, while producing pedestrian statistics, has been a tremendous leader and a clutch performer. When the game has been on the line, Newton has “stepped up and produced.”
That is why the Panthers are undefeated. They score when points are needed and their defense has been upper echelon. But, before the season began two months ago, the Colts, not the Panthers, were projected to excel.
Predictions often fail to materialize and, to this point in the still-young 2015-2016 Season, forecasts for the Indianapolis Colts have been wrong. This team is fighting to remain relevant. Its poor play and the surprising effort being put forth weekly by the home team Panthers make this weekend’s match seem like a mismatch.
However, in the National Football League (NFL), the current game has little to do with past performance. Football players generally thrive on emotion and desire. An embarrassing performance one week often leads to outstanding play the following week.
Andrew Luck and his Colts teammates undoubtedly know that the game against Carolina is critically important. The Colts are in first place with a sub-par record because their division is weak. This game against top competition, featuring a great defense led by Luke Kuechly, gives the visitors a chance to “make a statement” and show the other teams in the National Football League that they are a squad that deserves respect, a team that can beat any other team at home and, more importantly, on the road.
For their part, the Panthers will likely want to make a statement, as well. It will be that the visitors from Indiana lack the skills, the personnel and the desire to win an important road game.
The Panthers, while still undefeated, need to convince their fans and their competitors that they are “the real deal.”
The game between these two contending squads figures to be a “real barn-burner.”
Courtesy of the Indianapolis Colts