By Eric Ronnebeck
Thanksgiving has passed and (hopefully) all of the leftovers have been eaten. It’s the time when winning football teams prepare for the final four games of the season to make that playoff push, while the teams at the bottom of the standings are simply playing for pride. As two more teams found out this week, their season is over.
Carolina Panthers (3-8-1):
The Carolina Panthers are a funny team this year. I wonder how a team that is 3-8-1 hasn’t made Your Season is Over sooner but look at their division. The NFC South is horrendously bad. None of the 4 teams have won more than 5 games through 13 weeks and the division winner may only get to 7 wins. It would be one thing if all the teams beat up on each other or had tough defenses but neither of those things is true. No, the Panthers are just another bad NFC South team. Although they’re only 2 games back of the division lead, the Panthers are done. They have suffered injuries to all 3 of their running backs; they have one receiver, who is a rookie; Cam Newton still hasn’t shown much improvement as a quarterback in his 3 plus years as a starting quarterback; and Greg Hardy, their best defensive player, has been suspended all year. All this and their coach, Riverboat Ron, stopped his gambling ways on the football field. This year, he should change his name to “Rudimentary Ron”.
Buffalo Bills (7-5):
There is a glut of 7-5 football teams in the AFC playoff chase and sadly the Bills are done. They were a team I was rooting for and they fought admirably all year; even playing one of their “home” games in Detroit because the town of Buffalo was buried in snow. However, the fact remains that this team will not make the playoffs. Looking at their schedule coupled with the aforementioned “glut of 7-5 teams” and you will see what I mean: at Denver, Green Bay at home, at Oakland, and at New England. It was a fun ride for a Buffalo team that had a lot going right for it but a bad start and a brutal finish buries this team. Starting the year with EJ Manuel was probably the first thing that went wrong for the Buffalo Bills. They made an interesting move in week 5 when they benched Manuel and put in journeyman Kyle Orton. Orton wasn’t supposed to light the league on fire but he played better than a lot of people thought he would, keeping this team in the playoff hunt ever since. With a story like that, Kyle Orton is not just the Bill’s quarterback; he may as well be there mascot.
Another edition of Your Season is Over is all wrapped up. Check in next week as the list of playoff hopefuls continues to shrink.