Can't you see the sunshine
Can't you just feel the moonshine
Ain't it just like a friend of mine
It hit me from behind
Yes I'm gone to Carolina in my mind"
- Carolina in My Mind by James Taylor
A lot of people are thinking this is going to be the bounce-back season for Carolina. I, for one, am not one of them.
The Panthers are going to be better than they were last year, when Jake Delhomme got hurt and they were quarterbacked by
The bad news is that Delhomme, the key to the Panthers whole season, had Tommy John surgery less than a year ago. And from what I've read it takes over a year for a pitcher to fully recover from the surgery. I don't think that there is as much stress on a quarterback's elbow as a pitcher's though. However, I have my doubts about Delhomme being effective or making it through the season.
Then there is Steve Smith - who has apparently gone waaay around the bend. In the first week of training camp he sucker-punched a teammate and broke his nose. Now Smith is suspended for the first 2 games of the year. Smith is one of the best in the game but he's just a little bit insane.
On defence, Carolina should be solid. Julius Peppers has disappeared faster than New Coke, but if he returns to form they'll be very solid. Carolina has a good group of linebackers either way.
I think there is the belief among some that Carolina can win the NFC South. That's just not going to happen. There are too many things that can go wrong this season for the Panthers. I think as an absolute best-case scenario, Carolina could hang around and sneak into the Wild Card.