I would have had this post up earlier in the day, but I ran out of time at Sea-Tac Airport and had to wait until I got back to the Bay Area to put this together. But it was worth the wait given the result. As always, for those unaware, the 49ers hold the Carolina Panthers 2010 first round pick, and so we take a weekly look at the Panthers results and the impact on draft status. Prior to today the Panthers actually had a worse pick (13th to the 49ers 11th), but that has obviously changed with today's result.
Week 12 - @ New York Jets
Even with their solid start, I was convinced the New York Jets were a bit of a fraud. Well, recently that came through as Mark Sanchez hit a rookie wall, leading him to struggle immensely the last few weeks and turn into a turnover machine. Fortunately, the Jets were able to right the ship today against the Panthers. Sanchez was just good enough to not blow the game for the Jets. Thankfully Jake Delhomme did not follow that path. No, Jake Delhomme reverted to his early season form, throwing four interceptions against no touchdowns and producing a nice little 12.7 QB rating. 14/34 for 130 yards with the picks will do that to you.
Midway through the first quarter Delhomme threw a pick to Darrelle Revis, who took it to the house, in what would end up basically being the difference in the game. The Jets offensive attack was rather anemic, but really there offense was predicated on Jake Delhomme's picks. The Jets did their best to keep the Panthers in the game, as Sanchez threw an interception, and Dustin Keller and Shonn Greene both fumbled the ball. Fortunately, the Panthers rushing attack was held to one of its worst performances of the season (25 carries, 75 yards). If Jake isn't getting run support, he simply cannot carry this team to victory.
Week 13 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers host the scuffling Bucs next Sunday, in what I'd imagine most folks have marked up as a win for Carolina. The Buccaneers are coming off yet another tough loss, as coach Raheem Morris is trying to keep his team afloat the rest of the season. And yet, the Bucs have hung tough throughout the season. The question is whether they can pull off what would no doubt be an upset on the road at Carolina. A Bucs upset would be huge for the 49ers acquired draft pick. The Panthers face a tough close to the season as they'll be underdogs in pretty much every remaining game after Tampa Bay (@ NE, vs. Min, @ NYG, vs. NO). The only winnable game there could in fact be the Saints depending on if they're still undefeated. If they've lost a game but clinched home field they could very well bench most of their starters (or give them a series or two). If they're undefeated at this point though, I'd imagine they'd be going for the kill. So for now, I know the Panthers have it in them to blow this one, and I'm certainly hoping they don't let me down!