Written by The Dark Knight of Sports LaShawn Encarnacion
With the loss by the Cincinnati Bengals to the Houston Texans last Monday night, there are only two undefeated teams left in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers in the NFC and the New England Patriots in the AFC. Which of these two teams, IF they even do, lose their first game first? Lets break it down via opponents and potential road blocks.
Lets start with the obvious favorite in the NFC, the Carolina Panthers. It starts and ends with MVP candidate Cam Newton. His ability to make good decisions with the football has led the Panthers to their 9-0 record this season. Without any real weapons on the outside, other than Greg Olsen who is their Pro Bowl Tight End, Cam has continued to perform the offense extremely well. Coach Rivera has given the keys to Cam and Cam has delivered whether it be dropping back in the pocket or making the call to scramble for those much needed yards. The defense of the Panthers also has delivered, especially in their back seven of linebackers and defensive backs.
Looking over the Panthers schedule, week 12 looks very possible where the Panthers could suffer their first loss. They head to Big D and the “billion-dollar play-pen” to play the Dallas Cowboys, who will more than likely have Tony Romo back under center, which changes the Cowboys offense tremendously. Two match ups with the Falcons (weeks 14 and 16) could be problematic IF they get past the Cowboys. But if things play as they do, that Cowboys game is that first loss because of the Romo factor.
Moving over to the AFC side of things, the runaway MVP candidate Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.
When the NFL botched their investigation over “Deflategate” and the appeals court ruled in favor of Brady, allowing him to start the season, it was simply “chalkboard material” for the Patriots and Brady. When it comes to talking about the Broncos, Cowboys, Packers, Chargers, Ravens, etc… injuries are the reasons for their lack of production and record on the field. But what is forgotten, even with the 9-0 record, the Patriots themselves have had their injuries to deal with. That offensive line of Brady’s has been shuffled so many times, it could be considered an official card game in major casinos around the world. Patch up does not even begin to describe how depleted their offensive line is and that does not even get into the defensive side of the ball with injuries. This just reinforces just how good of a coach Belichick TRULY is and just how great Brady IS at the quarterback position.
Looking over the schedule for the Patriots, the one slip up could be against the Denver Broncos in week 12 on Sunday night. IF and ONLY if, the Broncos defense is 100-percent healthy and Peyton Manning is under center. Both of those are currently not the case and is unknown for week 12. Other than that game, the only other one is against the Jets in their house week 16. Last game of the season against the Dolphins could be a problem IF Coach Belichick decides to sit players, but unlikely.
So to conclude, the projected first loss looks to be taken by BOTH teams on the same week. The Patriots have more in their favor to overcome their obstacle while the Panthers looks to have more against them. But in the end, these two teams are as good as advertised and will be dominating their divisions, their conferences and could very well be playing in Santa Clara and Super Bowl 50 come Super Bowl time.
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