If a Panthers win during a Giants, and a Cardinals tie or mislay to a Eagles, a Panthers will be 14-0 and have a No. 1 seed and home-field advantage via a NFC playoffs wrapped adult with dual games to play.
It will afterwards give manager Ron Rivera and a Panthers one vital doubt to answer:
To 16-0, or not to 16-0?
It’s a elementary question, nonetheless a answers take we in circles. The Panthers could have a event to turn usually a second 16-0 regular-season group in NFL history, and a initial to get to 19-0 if they win a Super Bowl. Then again, sky dissuade they mislay one of their stars — Cam Newton, Greg Olsen, or Luke Kuechly — in one of their final games opposite a Falcons and Buccaneers when they already have all clinched.
Then again, what if by resting in a final dual weeks a Panthers turn rusty and mislay their movement streamer into a playoffs? Then again, maybe that visualisation is a bit overrated.
Rivera hasn’t finished any decisive statements about his plans, nonetheless seems to be disposition a certain way.
“The idea is not to go 16-0 or go undefeated,” he pronounced on Monday. “The idea is to win a Super Bowl.”
The Panthers are usually a eighth group in a Super Bowl epoch to strike 13-0. The 1972 Dolphins, 1998 Broncos, and 2009 Saints won a Super Bowl, a 2007 Patriots and 2009 Colts mislaid a Super Bowl, and a 2005 Colts and 2011 Packers mislaid in a local round.
For discernment into how a Panthers should hoop a final weeks of a unchanging season, we incited to dual group who have knowledge during being 13-0 — NBC researcher Tony Dungy, who was a manager of a 2005 and 2009 Colts, and Troy Brown, a receiver with a 2007 Patriots.
Dungy is famous — notorious, maybe — for resting his star players. In 2005, a Colts had a No. 1 seed clinched with 3 games to play, and Dungy possibly sat many of his starters or pulled them during halftime in any of those games. The Colts went 1-2, afterwards mislaid to a Steelers during home in their initial playoff game.
But Dungy pronounced by write that he has no regrets about his decision, and thinks a answer is apparent for Rivera.
“It all sounds good to go for 16-0,” Dungy said. “But what do we contend to your group if we mislay Marvin Harrison or Peyton Manning or Bob Sanders in a diversion that doesn’t meant anything? ‘Well, that’s football, I’m contemptible we’re not going to be full strength for a playoffs?’ we didn’t wish to have that review with them.”
Dungy pronounced he doesn’t buy a speculation about losing movement streamer into a playoffs, and there is copiousness explanation to behind adult his faith right here in New England. Just final year, a Patriots sat Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Dont’a Hightower, Brandon Browner, and dual descent linemen for their Week 17 diversion opposite Buffalo, and private Tom Brady at halftime. The Patriots mislaid a game, afterwards had a bye week, nonetheless came behind and won a Super Bowl. And in 2009, Wes Welker tore his ACL in a Week 17 diversion during Houston, throwing a Patriots in a despondency right before a playoffs.
In final week’s 38-0 win over Atlanta, a Panthers mislaid cornerback Bene Benwikere to a damaged leg, while Newton (hand), Olsen (knee), and Kuechly (ankle) suffered teenager injuries. Dungy pronounced that was adequate explanation for him — he wouldn’t even play Newton in Week 17.
“I’ve got most some-more of a possibility to get to a Super Bowl with Cam Newton personification quarterback, and about a usually thing that can short-circuit me is Cam removing harm in a final game,” Dungy said. “I’m holding a big, nonessential risk if we put him in.”
Good fitness revelation a players that 16-0 isn’t important, however.
“Players are always thinking, ‘We play to win any game, and whatever happens, happens,’ ” Brown said. “You can’t put a backup during any singular position.”
Brown and a 2007 Patriots went for it during a end, personification all of their starters in a furious 38-35 win over a Giants to hang adult their 16-0 unchanging season. Everyone knows how that story ended, with a 18-0 Patriots losing by a margin idea to a Giants in a Super Bowl following a spectacle locate by David Tyree in a shutting seconds.
I asked Brown if a vigour of going 19-0 contributed to a loss, and if a group would have been improved off had it been 17-1 entering a Super Bowl.
“You always feel stress and vigour to go out and perform,” Brown said. “I don’t consider vigour had anything to do with us not scheming good during a week, or a man throwing a round on a side of his helmet, or Eli [Manning] jolt giveaway of a tackle. They were usually a improved group than we were.”
Rivera’s personal story could play into a decision. Thirty years ago, Rivera was a linebacker for a Super Bowl-winning Bears group that went 18-1 and stays one of a best teams in NFL history. Rivera still admits that a one detriment “was a tough pill” for he and his teammates to take. And in 2009, when Rivera was a defensive coordinator in San Diego, a Chargers complacent everybody in Week 17, and even nonetheless a Chargers won that game, Rivera pronounced a Chargers were “rusty” when they mislaid to a Jets in their initial playoff game.
“I wasn’t a conduct manager then, and we didn’t make that decision. But we went along with it,” Rivera said.
“I contend we’ve got to do it smart. We’ve got to be judicious.”
The answer substantially lies between a dual extremes. Rivera should play his starters in a initial half of any diversion to keep his players pointy and focused, nonetheless mislay them in a second half, no matter a score.
A 16-0 record would be nice, nonetheless a glossy Lombardi Trophy in a Panthers’ football domicile would demeanour most better.
LOVE AT FIRST SITE
LA favorite has emerged
Richard Vogel/Associated Press
An arial perspective of a due NFL track site, adjacent to Interstate 405 in Carson, Calif.
The NFL has another 3 weeks to figure out a Los Angeles situation, with owners set to assemble in Houston Jan. 12-13 to opinion on that teams to concede to pierce to a country’s second-largest marketplace for a 2016 season. The Rams have a track offer in Inglewood, while a Chargers and Raiders have a corner devise in Carson.
If a developments of final week were any indication, a transparent favorite has emerged.
The Texans’ Bob McNair, one of 6 owners on a Committee on Los Angeles Opportunities (along with Robert Kraft), pronounced he upheld a Chargers-Raiders offer and has small faith in a city of San Diego getting a track done for a Chargers after 15 years of unsuccessful negotiations.
“They’re observant they’re going to do something now. But in sequence to do it, they’d have to have a referendum and a referendum isn’t until subsequent June,” McNair told a Houston Chronicle. “Well, we can’t have these teams in limbo. You need to have certainty and we don’t know if a referendum would pass or fail. We can’t take what they’re observant really seriously.”
McNair is now a second owners on a LA cabinet to support a Chargers-Raiders project, fasten Panthers owners Jerry Richardson. Richardson was also a one who assured Disney CEO Bob Iger to manage a Carson project.
St. Louis and Missouri county leaders are also a closest among a 3 cities to entrance adult with open appropriation for a new stadium. The city has blueprints for a downtown track that would embody $400 million in open funding, $250 million from an NFL group (Rams or otherwise), and $200 million from a NFL.
A news emerged final week that a NFL was peaceful to chip in another $100 million in lapse for giving adult taxation income — a pointer that a NFL was pulling for a Rams to stay in St. Louis — nonetheless on Thursday commissioner Roger Goodell sent a warning minute to Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon, saying that augmenting a league’s grant to $300 million is “fundamentally unsuitable with a NFL’s module of track financing.” The additional appropriation would need a opinion of during slightest 24 of a NFL’s 32 owners.
“No offer has nonetheless been presented to boost a accessible financing over a stream $200 million maximum,” Goodell wrote, “and there can be no declaration that such a offer would grasp a required support.”
The early proclamation of a additional $100 million in track appropriation was apparently a energy play by St. Louis/Missouri leaders, who authorized their track devise on Friday and have now put a vigour on a NFL to yield a final $100 million if it wants to keep a Rams in St. Louis.
There is still copiousness of back-room politicking to be finished over a subsequent 3 weeks between a 3 teams and a other 29 owners, nonetheless a view appears to be that a NFL would cite to let a stream California teams pierce within a state instead of adding a Rams behind into a state. Not to mention, if a Rams’ devise is a one approved, it does zero to placate a track woes in San Diego and Oakland.
PICKING A HORSE
Broncos’ Kubiak has large decision
Peyton Manning is behind participating in particular drills and regulating a director group during Broncos practices, and manager Gary Kubiak now has a large preference to make as a Broncos conflict for a No. 1 seed in a AFC playoffs: Does he go with Manning once his feet damage is entirely healed, or hang with Brock Osweiler, who is 3-1 as a starter in what is radically his rookie season?
My premonition is that Kubiak should hang with Osweiler. Manning was one of a NFL’s misfortune quarterbacks in a 9 games he played, throwing 9 touchdown passes opposite 17 interceptions. He was a terrible fit for Kubiak’s offense, and his miss of mobility takes divided a lot of Kubiak’s playbook — a bootlegs, rollouts, and under-center play-action passes that are executive to his offense.
Osweiler is no Earl Morrall, nonetheless he has played sincerely well, completing 63.5 percent of his passes with 5 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and wins opposite a Bears, Patriots, and Chargers, dual of that came on a road. His athleticism opens adult some-more options for Kubiak, and a Broncos are personification good with him, final week’s detriment to a Raiders notwithstanding.
But NBC’s Tony Dungy may have altered my mind when we asked him who he would go with, and he answered Manning, definitively.
“I consider if he’s healthy he’ll get his pursuit back, and we consider he’ll give them a best possibility to win if he’s healthy,” Dungy said. “Now, he’s got to be means to chuck and play and pierce 100 percent, not 75 or 80 percent. But if we demeanour during Bill Belichick and say, ‘Would we rather play opposite Brock Osweiler or Peyton Manning healthy?’ we consider that’s an easy call. For a rookie QB who has played 6 games, to consider that gives we a best possibility in a playoffs, we usually don’t trust that’s a case.”
Active purpose being taken by league
No issues from this author with a NFL’s announcing an “adjustment” to a officiating procedures for a playoffs, with conduct of officiating Dean Blandino taking a some-more active purpose in assisting officials understanding with situations that aren’t now lonesome by a present replay rule.
Former conduct of officiating Mike Pereira told ESPN that this change can give a sense that a joining bureau is creation decisions on who wins or loses playoff games, and Patriots fans adore to trust that a joining bureau has it out for their team.
But Blandino will not have a ability to call or change a penalty, or turn concerned in on-field visualisation calls that aren’t partial of a stream replay rules. His new duties will simply make certain that a officials count off a scold chastisement yardage, and that a diversion and play clocks are administered correctly. Given how many executive errors a officials have finished this year, this can usually be seen as a positive.
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Carson Palmer leads a lead in completions of 20 or some-more yards.
NFL leaders have to be beholden for Carson Palmer. If not for a Cardinals quarterback, who is carrying an MVP-caliber deteriorate after ripping his ACL final season, a tip dual possibilities for a league’s Comeback Player of a Year competence be Adrian Peterson and Richie Incognito, who are carrying glorious seasons after spending 2014 out of football for personal reasons. we suppose a NFL wants zero to do with honoring possibly of those players . . .
The Panthers’ Josh Norman has clearly taken Richard Sherman’s role as “brash immature cornerback who talks a large game,” with Norman plainly bragging about his performances opposite Julio Jones this year and removing in an interesting fight of difference with Rodney Harrison last week. But Norman was wearing a recording device for final week’s win over a Falcons, and it’s transparent that he’s a lot some-more than a large talker. Norman impressively called out, “Screen! Screen!” before a snap formed on a Falcons’ formation, highlighting how most credentials and study goes into his performance. The Panthers sniffed a play out for no benefit . . . The Texans are an strange 0-12 all time during Indianapolis, losing on a Colts’ territory any year given a Texans came into existence in 2002. The teams accommodate during Lucas Oil Field on Sunday with both during 6-7 and initial place in a AFC South on a line . . . The Chiefs are a second group in NFL story to win 7 true games immediately following a five-game losing streak. The 1970 Bengals also achieved a attainment . . . Well, we’ve found a argumentative story for a 2016 NFL Draft. Mississippi defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche, a intensity top-10 pick, was charged with possession of pot after crashing by a double-paned hotel window final weekend in Atlanta and descending 15 feet to a ground. Nkemdiche denied a Fox Sports news that he was regulating a fake pot that doesn’t uncover adult on drug tests nonetheless has side effects of paranoia, delusion, and hallucinations. Nkemdiche hasn’t announced for a breeze yet, nonetheless presumption he does, we will hear copiousness about this story and other intensity red flags between now and late April.
Khalil Mack was a force in a Raiders’ 15-12 win over Denver final Sunday. The linebacker became a sixth actor to register 5 sacks in a diversion before branch 25 years old. Each of a sacks also precipitated Oakland removing a round back. Here’s a relapse of Mack’s power of terror:
Compiled by Michael GrossiBen Volin can be reached during [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin. Material from interviews, handle services, other kick writers, and joining and group sources was used in this report.