The Panthers (6-9) are going to try and finish out their mostly dismal season on a positive note by going 4-0 down the homestretch with what they hope will be a victory over the New Orleans Saints this afternoon in an away game . The Saints, in a similar situation as the Panthers with no hopes of getting into the playoffs, nevertheless will try to exact revenge on the Panthers for the 35-27 loss  the Cats gave them in the second week of regular season play – and a win today would put the Saints at .500 for the season. Not great, but at least respectable.
Probably the biggest story of the week for the Panthers was not how they’ve prepared to take on the Saints today but rather fines issued by the league  against several players for incidents that happened on the field during their home game against the Raiders last Sunday:
The NFL levied two fines against Cam Newton for his conduct in the Panthers’ win against Oakland on Sunday.
The Observer reported late Thursday  that Newton had been fined $21,000 for abusive conduct toward a game official. Joe Person reported Friday that Newton was also fined $10,000 for kicking Raiders DT Tommy Kelly.
The kick came after Kelly had combined with Desmond Bryantfor a sack in the second quarter. Newton kicked at Kelly, who then held Newton down and received a flag for unnecessary roughness. The quarterback said after the game he was trying to get up as quickly as possible and did not intend to kick Kelly .
Defensive end Greg Hardy was fined $25,000 for his hit on Carson Palmer. Hardy hit Palmer as he threw in the first quarter, knocking Palmer out of the game and subsequently the rest of the season.
Hardy was fined $15,750 earlier in the season for hitting Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III in the head following a throw.
Also getting fined was safety Charles Godfrey for his hit on a defenseless receiver. The NFL fined Godfrey $21,000 for hitting Rod Streater in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.
I don’t recall the Godfrey hit but going off memory on the Hardy hit on Palmer, it didn’t strike me as illegal but the NFL is getting more strict in terms of the types of hits allowed, especially against quarterbacks, so it’s no surprise these fines were handed down. On the other hand, the Cam Newton fines are understandable. His frustration at the refs was, too – especially considering that Raiders’ DT Tommy Kelly admitted after the game  they wanted to “take Cam out” after the Palmer hit, but Cam shouldn’t have reacted to the ref the way he did. Time to be a grown up, man.
Today’s game between the Panthers and the Saints starts at 1 ET and will be broadcast on Fox locally.
My office pool picks for this week: Giants, Bills, Ravens, Steelers, Texans, Titans, Bears, Saints, Falcons, 49ers, Packers, Patriots, Chargers, Broncos, Seahawks, Redskins (42 total game points).