Locally, this game will be kind of cool – a rare chance to see the Carolina Panthers on “Monday Night Football.”
Nationally, though – what a clunker! You can imagine what NFL and TV executives were thinking when this one got put on prime time back in the spring – two dynamic quarterbacks, two teams at least likely to be in the playoff hunt (or surely at least one would be) and the cacophony of noise that is always there in a night game in Philadelphia.
Well ... the noise will be there, although Eagles fans are angry and liable to turn on their 3-7 team at any second. One of the quarterbacks will be there for sure in Cam Newton, although he has regressed in Year 2. Michael Vick may not play for Philadelphia, and even when he has played he has been a turnover machine too often in 2012. And ain’t nobody going to the playoffs – with the Panthers at 2-8, the teams have only five wins between them.
I don’t envy Jon Gruden and Mike Tirico trying to make this one sound good for a national audience.
• Head coaches Andy Reid and Ron Rivera worked together for years in Philadelphia (with Rivera coaching under Reid). Now they are in roughly similar situations, with both men’s job security in question. Reid has even been thought to be a possible successor to Rivera in Charlotte should both be fired at season’s end.
• When the Panthers played (and won) at Philadelphia in the 2003 NFC championship game, some players refused to let friends and families go along. The reason? A well-founded fear of the nastiness prevalent at an Eagles home game. It’s a place where you don’t wear an opposing team’s jersey.
• While the Panthers’ record is slightly worse than the Eagles, I actually think they are a slightly better team. At least the Panthers have led most of their losses in the fourth quarter. By that time the Eagles are often out of the game. My prediction: Carolina 20, Philadelphia 16.