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The Carolina Panthers (4-9) are coming off a very exciting home win last week against their division rivals the Falcons and are hoping to create a “win streak” of sorts down the final stretch of the season as they take on the San Diego Chargers (5-8) today in an away game. I myself was so impressed with how the Panthers played against the Falcons that I picked them to win today over the Chargers who, of course, are not nearly as good as the Falcs – and maybe not as good a team as the Panthers are when the Cats are “on their game.” The big question is: WILL they be on their game today, and will they play the FULL four quarters of football or run out of steam in the 3rd Q, as has so often been the case with this team?
Today’s Charlotte Observer features a piece on Panthers star WR Steve Smith and Hall of Fame talk:
Steve Smith is starting to climb the NFL’s all-time receiving charts. But the Panthers’ longest-tenured player says he won’t worry about his career accolades until he’s retired and sipping iced tea on his front porch.
“Until then,” Smith said, “I’m going to keep spinning that ball.”
Smith’s ball spin is his signature move, done after big catches and usually accompanied by barking at a defensive back or the opposing sideline – and sometimes his own. Since the Panthers’ dreadful 2010 season, which made Smith question if he wanted to stay in Charlotte, there has been a lot of ball-spinning the past two years.
Smith enters Sunday’s game at San Diego a yard shy of 1,000 receiving yards, which would be his seventh 1,000-yard season and second in a row. With back-to-back, 100-yard games the past two weeks against Kansas City and Atlanta, Smith has 43 for his career – tied for 10th all-time among NFL receivers.
Smith, 33, is 26th all-time with 11,277 receiving yards and 32nd with 759 catches. Panthers coach Ron Rivera believes those numbers should at least put Smith in the conversation for Canton with a few more productive seasons.
Game time today is 4:05 PM ET and it will be broadcast on Fox in this area.
My office pool picks for this week:
Titans (36 total game points)