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Carolina Panthers 2004-05 Schedule

September 13 -- Green Bay Packers: Ah, Monday Night football. Madden and Al Michaels are in town, a national TV audience, and another chance for the local TV stations to show how clueless they are (Last time around, WSOC-TV ran the legend "What the Nation Saw" at the bottom of the screen post-game). Green Bay's running game is strong with 1,800-yard rusher Ahman Green, but the defense has holes, as do the hands of the team's wide receivers. Prediction: Panthers 20, Packers 13

September 19 -- @Kansas City Chiefs: Arrowhead Stadium is quite the inhospitable environment, and the running of Priest Holmes (27 TDs a year ago, a NFL record) spells trouble. That said, a healthy Mark Fields and Dan Morgan should do enough to force KC to throw the ball in the second half, wherein all hell breaks loose. Prediction: Panthers 28, Chiefs 14

October 3 -- Atlanta Falcons: Refreshed after a week off, the Cats set their sights on arch rivals the Atlanta Falcons, who now employ a West Coast offense helmed by multi-talented QB Michael Vick. Expect the Falcons to still be learning the nuances of their offense, however, leaving the door open for the Panthers to pull out a close one. Prediction: Panthers 17, Falcons 14

October 10 -- @Denver Broncos: The first stumbling block. Even without star RB Clinton Portis (now with the Redskins), the team has depth at the running back position with Quentin Griffin -- the poor man's Barry Sanders -- and rookie Tatum Bell. Toss in two developing wide receivers in Darius Watts and Ashley Lelie to go along with holdover Rod Smith, and you have matchup problems all over the field. To boot, the Broncos rarely lose at home. Prediction: Broncos 31, Panthers 14

October 17 -- @Philadelphia Eagles: Screw the Eagles, and screw the team's new hotshot WR, the utterly annoying (and overrated) Terrell Owens. Without RB Correll Buckhalter (out for the season), the team will be forced to rely on undersized RB Brian Westbrook and the arm of Donovan McNabb (the man's reasoning was wrong, but Rush Limbaugh was right about one thing: McNabb is highly overrated, missing more passes in a given game than most top-tier starters). Panthers in a close one. Prediction: Panthers 19, Eagles 10

October 24 -- San Diego Chargers: The closest thing to a "show up and win" on the entire schedule, provided the Cats shut down all-world RB LaDainian Tomlinson. Whether it's Drew Brees or NC State alum Philip Rivers handling the play calling, the Panther "D" should give them plenty to think they're lying prone in the backfield. Prediction: Panthers 31, Chargers 14

October 31 -- @Seattle Seahawks: Now a member of the NFC, the Seahawks boast one of the most explosive offenses in the league, courtesy of QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander, and WRs Darrell Jackson and (Belmont native) Koren Robinson. Carolina should be able to put some points on the board here, but it won't be enough to stop the "Hawks air assault. Prediction: Seahawks 23, Panthers 14

November 7 -- Oakland Raiders: New coach Norv Turner once again has the Raiders focused, but the team lacks any consistent, field-stretching weapons outside of WR Jerry Porter and RB Justin Fargas. To boot, the combined age of their two offensive leaders -- Jerry Rice and Rich Gannon -- roughly equals that of Eddie Albert. Panthers in a walk. Prediction: Panthers 37, Raiders 13

November 14 -- @San Francisco 49ers: Yet another Bay Area team with rebuilding issues, the 49ers do boast one of the best young running backs in the game in Kevan Barlow. However, the team is hopelessly young at wide receiver, and lacks a consistent play-caller. The defense is young but improving, but not enough to stop Stephen Davis and DeShaun Foster from each approaching the century mark in yards rushing. Prediction: Panthers 22, 49ers 16

November 21 -- Arizona Cardinals: Injured "Zona wideout Anquan Boldin should be back by this game, and along with rookie sensation Larry Fitzgerald, will give the Panthers' secondary fits. Look for young RB Damien Anderson to hang a 100 on the Cats in mop-up duty after replacing Marcel Shipp and Emmitt Smith as lead ball-toter. Prediction: Cardinals 31, Panthers 28

November 28 -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: No Sapp, no Keyshawn, no Joe Jurevicious? No problem. Panthers win big at home, and Simeon Rice once again goes home with his tail between his legs. Prediction: Panthers 25, Bucs 7

December 5 -- @New Orleans Saints: Boasting a trio of speedy wideouts (Joe Horn, Donte Stallworth, Devery Henderson), a top five RB (Deuce McAllister), as well as a maturing QB (Aaron Brooks), the Saints have more than enough weapons to hang with the Panthers -- offensively, at least. Carolina's feeling the effects of a tough schedule by now, however, and lose in a squeaker. Prediction: Saints 28, Panthers 24

December 12 -- St. Louis Rams: Now sans Kurt Warner, the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" shtick is back, with QB Mark Bulger more than making up for the loss of his mentor, who is now giving way to Eli Manning as the New York Giants' lead signal caller. This time around, Delhomme's late-game heroics are too little, too late, leaving the Panthers with back-to-back losses for the first time all year. Prediction: Rams 35, Panthers 21

December 18 -- @Atlanta Falcons: Atlanta QB Michael Vick must run wild in this one, as the team's new West Coast offense sputters due to a lack of viable weapons. Carolina runs an eight-man front all day long, frustrating Vick into his worst performance of the season. Prediction: Panthers 28, Falcons 10

December 26 -- @Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay has nothing to play for, and the Panthers seek a first-round bye in the playoffs. Result? The biggest rout of the season. Prediction: Panthers 42, Bucs 20

January 2 -- New Orleans Saints: Seeking payback for their earlier defeat, the Panthers bring the kitchen sink in this pairing, containing McAllister with a stacked line and stellar man-to-man coverage from Ricky Manning and rookie Chris Gamble. See you in the playoffs, everybody! Prediction: Panthers 24, Saints 16

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