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Friday, September 21, 2018

Duke's 40–27 Win at Baylor Kept Their Season of Promise Intact

Posted By on Fri, Sep 21, 2018 at 3:38 PM

Gathering like a full-force gale, elements literal and metaphorical all seemed to conspire against Duke football's season of promise leading into last week's road game at Baylor. The previous week, redshirt junior quarterback Daniel Jones had been one of a raft of injuries incurred by the Blue Devils during an otherwise impressive win at Northwestern, sidelined with a broken clavicle. As many as five starters were ruled out for the Baylor game, creating significant pressure on a still young team. That preceded the arrival of Florence, which forced the team to head down to Waco early and spend two...

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Unbelievably Dull and Incredibly Slow: Does the NFL Just Suck Now?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2018 at 7:02 AM

The Cleveland Browns almost won. Two weeks into the new NFL season, and that has thus far been professional football’s only compelling story. The rebuilt Browns, helmed by the three-headed idiot factory that is Hue Jackson, Todd Haley, and Gregg Williams, look, if not competent, then at least something resembling a professional football team. Which, sure, is exciting, I guess. From their never-ending stream of high first-round draft picks finally stacking up to the emotional connection viewers of HBO’s beautifully shot Hard Knocks forged to the team to a quarterback who might stick around under center for more than a...

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Wednesday, September 12, 2018

At 0–2, the UNC Stands on the Verge of a Lost Season—and Probably Got a Welcome Reprieve From Florence

Posted By on Wed, Sep 12, 2018 at 4:57 PM

For a good hour and a half of early-game football on Saturday, the UNC Tar Heels appeared to have, if not righted, at least pointed their ship in the right direction. The Tar Heels scored on five of their six first-half possessions, Antonio Williams was picking up chunk yards on the ground, and Nathan Elliott looked competent through the air. They were down at the half but only by two and went into the locker room having outgained East Carolina by nearly fifty yards. Other than a few boneheaded penalties, the only smear on the Heels’ first half was...

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Friday, September 7, 2018

So Will the Panthers Boom or Bust This Year? Place Your Bets Now.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2018 at 2:55 PM

Public opinion on the Panthers’ 2018 prospects is widely split, and why wouldn't it be? The NFL is notoriously difficult to predict year to year, and the Panthers have undergone an off-season of transition. Last year's 11-5 team, which finished second in the NFC South and lost a close contest to the Saints in the wildcard, returns longtime head coach Ron Rivera and star quarterback Cam Newton, but will feature new coordinators on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball, the full-time return of GM Marty Hurney, and a new owner in David Tepper. Many see the...

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Thursday, September 6, 2018

After an Impressive Army-Stomping Debut, Duke Looks Poised to Do Big Things

Posted By on Thu, Sep 6, 2018 at 4:54 PM

Duke head coach David Cutcliffe is one of the most highly respected minds in all of college football, and his eleventh season in Durham could be one of his most successful. The Blue Devils finished an up-and-down 2017 on a high note, winning three straight, including a bowl game over NIU, to finish 7–6. That team's notably young core was alternately excellent and terrible for long stretches, as a strong 4–0 start gave way to a baffling six-game losing streak before the squad’s late-season charge. This sort of inconsistency is part of the bargain when starting a raft of...

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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

UNC Starts a Long Season on a Sour Note

Posted By on Wed, Sep 5, 2018 at 2:11 PM

Don’t let the fact that Carolina lost their season opener by a touchdown—that they were one almost-recovered onside kick away from getting the ball back with a minute and some to go and a short field with which to work—fool you. This game was not even close, and we can thank some combination of Cal’s own offensive ineptitude and a relatively stout performance from Carolina’s defense for the Golden Bears only putting up twenty-four points on Saturday. Somehow Larry Fedora’s football team shattered our already low expectations this weekend. Somehow the team, which started near the basement of the...

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Friday, August 31, 2018

The Panthers Went 3–1 in the Preseason. Should We Get Our Hopes Up?

Posted By on Fri, Aug 31, 2018 at 3:05 PM

The preseason is over. How did we look? The Panthers concluded their preseason with a 39–24 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers last night, in a game that saw the majority of their marquee starts sit out, as is the custom with the final dress rehearsal. In what was a difficult night for the team all around, the Steelers were able to take advantage of potential problem areas along the Panthers’ offensive line and secondary, which will both need to improve if the team hopes to be a contender in the loaded NFC. It was the worst outing of their...

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Friday, August 17, 2018

You Guys, the Carolina Panthers Could Be Really Good This Year!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2018 at 3:49 PM

It's Panthers Season, Folks! The so-called experts said it would never happen, but it appears we’re going to survive the Summer of 2018, which means one thing: Here comes football! And for Panthers fans, this is a particularly exciting development, because Cam & The Cats have the potential to be good. Like Super Bowl good. Like the last-ever-NFL-champions-before-the-full-on-collapse-of-humanity good. And if that doesn't move the meter for you, then I don't know what will. OK, I'm Intrigued. So What Have I Missed So Far? A lot! This past offseason has been among the most eventful in the franchise's twenty-five-year...

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

The NFL’s Ban on Kneeling Is White Owners Exerting Complete Control Over Their Black Players

Posted By on Thu, May 24, 2018 at 6:40 AM

This isn’t about patriotism. It’s not about respect for the flag or our military, our domestic protectors, or those lost in the line of duty. This is about control. This is about the small, uber-rich, and almost entirely white owners of professional football franchises reminding their players, nearly 70 percent of whom are black, to stay in line. This is about appeasing the MAGA types—led by the president himself—who have threatened to boycott the league, about stemming the tiny percentage of revenue that was lost since Colin Kaepernick began his protest, sparking league-wide kneelings in kind. This is about...

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Monday, May 21, 2018

An Old Hedge-Fund Billionaire Just Bought the Carolina Panthers, And We’re OK With That

Posted By on Mon, May 21, 2018 at 4:03 PM

The Carolina Panthers off-season of transition reached its apotheosis last week, with the apparent confirmation of former Pittsburgh Steelers minority-stakeholder David Tepper as the team's new owner. On the surface, Tepper appears not to be terribly dissimilar from a plurality of his peers in a league-ownership capacity. Fans can be forgiven for seeing a sixty-year-old white male billionaire hedge fund manager and not leaping to the conclusion that this constitutes an out-of-the-box development. And yet, there is much in Tepper's biography to suggest that he is, at a minimum, worlds apart from disgraced former owner Jerry Richardson, and that he may...

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Friday, May 4, 2018

Daniel Snyder and the Redskins’ Culture of Exploitation and Incompetence

Posted By on Fri, May 4, 2018 at 8:44 PM

Once upon a time, in the days before Daniel Snyder, the Washington Redskins were big box office in the Carolinas. Sometimes I meet people from here who are still Skins fans. They remember the good old days, with Sonny Jurgenson, Billy Kilmer, Joe Gibbs, Darrell Green, and The Posse. That was a long time ago, but I remember, too. I grew up in Northern Virginia during the glory days, when Redskins games were as close to a congregation as my family ever engaged in. Thus it has been sad, in the manner of watching a malignant disease destroy a...

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Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Super Bowl or Bust? Let’s Talk About the Panthers’ Off-Season Moves.

Posted By on Tue, May 1, 2018 at 4:41 PM

With the draft and free agency in the rearview mirror, the book is nearly closed on the Panthers’ off-season under officially reinstated general manager Marty Hurney. As we've discussed at infinite length, Hurney's most crucial objective this off-season was finding weapons for Cam Newton, particularly the sort that could maximize the potentialities of new offensive coordinator Norv Turner's downfield passing scheme. Other objectives included plugging holes on the defensive line and secondary. Here are the things you need to know about whether last year's playoff team has made themselves Super Bowl contenders or slipped backward toward mediocrity. What Was...

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Carolina Panthers Take a Chance on Maryland Speedster D.J. Moore in the First Round, and That Isn’t a Terrible Choice

Posted By on Fri, Apr 27, 2018 at 4:55 PM

Last night, old/new Panthers general manager Marty Hurney inaugurated his second official tenure as the team’s Roster-Maker-In-Chief by selecting Maryland wide receiver D.J. Moore in the first round of the 2018 draft. A fast riser in recent mock drafts, Moore is a speedy, gifted receiver who thrived in his last season in College Park despite being forced to catch passes from four separate quarterbacks due to a rash of injuries at the position. For Hurney, the pick is a recognition of the team's pressing need to find more help at the skill positions for Cam Newton. It is also...

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Dispatches from Duke Football's Annual Spring Game

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 3:42 PM

The weather was perfect for football as the Duke Blue Devils took the field Saturday for their annual Spring Game and open practice. Clouds gently rolled overhead, providing respite from a warm pre-summer sun that has taken far too long to arrive in earnest, giving the thousand or so diehards in attendance license to move from the shadow of Wallace Wade Stadium’s massive new luxury tower and press booth to rows much closer to the action. The field was organized chaos, as the afternoon started with a host of group and individual drills. Hundreds of players, coaches, and assistants...

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Thursday, April 12, 2018

Our Football Withdrawal Formula, Part One: Five Gridiron Books Everyone Should Read

Posted By on Thu, Apr 12, 2018 at 1:03 PM

Nine weeks after the Super Bowl and three weeks before the draft, we officially enter Football Withdrawal season! Sure, the break has been nice, the basketball was fun, and other diversions abound to keep us busy. But seriously: When the holy eff does football start again? Four months, you say? What? In an effort to stay sane, we will spend part of the next couple of weeks offering you a handful of gridiron related gambits to tide you over until the fall. Here Mike V. provides a list of five football books every sports fan needs to read. With a...

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Friday, March 16, 2018

For the Turnstiles: The Panthers Free Agency Adventure Begins With Significant Signings and Departures

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2018 at 1:08 PM

The first big test of Marty Hurney's second tenure as Carolina Panthers GM began this week, with the commencement of the annual NFL free-agency bazaar. Hurney's track record during his first tenure, which ran between 2002 and 2012, was a mixed bag overall, and that includes his free-agency classes. In keeping with an organizational philosophy that tends to prize the draft and homegrown talent as the main avenues toward roster building, the Panthers did not make a lot of splashy signings during Hurney’s tenure. Even an unvarnished triumph like the 2003 signing of future Super Bowl starter Jake Delhomme was...

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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Back to the Future: The Panthers End Their Search for a New GM Where It Began, with Team Fixture Marty Hurney

Posted By on Tue, Feb 27, 2018 at 1:17 PM

Last week, the Carolina Panthers search for a new general manager ended where it began, with the rehiring of longtime organization fixture and current interim GM Marty Hurney. This marks Hurney's second official tenure as GM, although in many ways it feels like he never went away. During his first stint on the job, from 2002–12, Hurney by and large proved an astute talent evaluator, and much of the Panthers’ hard-nosed physical identity mirrors the executive's preference for teams built around stout defense and a run-heavy offense. Hurney has proven particularly effective at the top of his draft classes, snagging...

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Friday, February 2, 2018

Sorry, Haters, but the New England Patriots Are Going to Win Super Bowl LII

Posted By on Fri, Feb 2, 2018 at 3:28 PM

I've watched every Super Bowl for the past thirty years and I can't remember a single one I had a stranger feeling about beforehand. I've made predictions, I've been right, I've been wrong, but rarely have I been so confused. There's a lot of weird stuff happening around this game. It's weird, the Nick Foles of it all. Is Nick Foles good? If Nick Foles is good, why was he buried on the Rams’ depth chart two years ago? Why couldn't he find a starting job in the NFL after his breakout 2013 season, when he threw for a frankly...

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Why the Eagles Are Going to Win the Super Bowl

Posted By on Thu, Feb 1, 2018 at 2:04 PM

In basketball, baseball, and hockey championships are determined via seven-game series. Those series are built, in theory, so that the better team will win. There are statistical arguments to the contrary, but at its core, that’s the idea. The one-and-done, on the other hand, is made for chaos, which is why many people regard the NCAA basketball tournament, the World Cup, and the NFL playoffs as the heights of sports excitement. After all, David only has to topple Goliath once. That both conferences’ top seeds advanced to Super Bowl LII is not extraordinary. What might be, however, is that this...

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Monday, January 29, 2018

The Panthers Have Lost Their Second Defensive Coordinator in Two Years. Will It Matter This Fall?

Posted By on Mon, Jan 29, 2018 at 9:41 AM

An offseason of transition for the Carolina Panthers continued last week as the Arizona Cardinals hired away defensive coordinator Steve Wilks to be their head coach. The Wilks hire wasn’t a complete surprise—the longtime assistant has been considered an ascendant star in league circles for the past few years—but it also marks the second time in two years that the Panthers will need to replace their defensive coordinator and confers upon the team the unique off-season challenge of remaking coaching staffs on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Wilks’s departure, following the hiring of Sean McDermott in...

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Friday, January 19, 2018

The NFL Is Wrapping Up Its Worst Season in Decades. We Should Blame Fantasy Football.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 19, 2018 at 9:46 AM

Now that we have a full season of ratings to postulate on, you can prepare yourself for a slate of various think pieces on America’s interest (apparently waning) in professional football. While there are many reasons for the decline in overall interest or engagement—bad on-field product, games spread across three and sometimes four nights a week, the slow-and-getting-slower pace of play, the rising number of cord-cutting households—I have a theory that the NFL’s decline has its roots in the Faustian bargain it made roughly fifteen years ago with fantasy football. Tens of millions of Americans now play some sort of...

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Friday, January 12, 2018

Norv Turner Could Be Exactly the QB Whisperer Cam Newton Needs—Or Not

Posted By on Fri, Jan 12, 2018 at 2:00 PM

Last Sunday, the Carolina Panthers season ended with a close playoff loss and a near-unanimous consensus that the team needs to find more help for their gifted, beleaguered superstar quarterback Cam Newton. That process began in earnest yesterday, as the team fired longtime offensive coordinator Mike Shula and quarterback coach Ken Dorsey and brought in the long-tenured NFL veteran Norv Turner to run the offensive show. Turner’s four-decade odyssey in the NFL has spanned multiple eras and sweeping changes within the sport. He has the unusual distinction of having been hired as a head coach three different times—in Washington, Oakland,...

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Monday, January 8, 2018

Panthers Recap: For the Love of God, Give Cam Newton Some Help

Posted By on Mon, Jan 8, 2018 at 3:48 PM

With twelve seconds remaining in yesterday’s wild-card game, with Carolina trailing by five points and facing a 3rd-and-23 from the Saints’ 35-yard line, Cam Newton lofted a dangerous-looking pass into the New Orleans end zone. Devin Funchess, ostensibly the Panthers’ number one wide receiver, engaged in some hand fighting with Saints strong safety Vonn Bell and appeared for a second to be in position to snag the winning touchdown. Instead, he didn’t a play on the ball, and it fell uneventfully to the Superdome turf. This effectively concluded Newton’s and the Panthers’ near-miss attempt at an epic comeback in a...

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Twice This Year, New Orleans Has Dominated the Carolina Panthers. Can the Third Time Possibly Be the Charm? Our Playoff Preview.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 at 3:27 PM

As the 11–5 Carolina Panthers embark on their playoff campaign this coming Sunday, much about the team will look familiar from previous postseason runs. The offense still functions almost entirely on the boom-or-bust proposition of Cam Newton’s bulldozer scrambling and scattershot arm, and the defense remains a disciplined and formidable unit with mainstay linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis thriving in a Swiss Army Knife capacity while ends Mario Addison and Julius Peppers chase down and torment quarterbacks. On its face, there is not a great deal of difference between this version of the Panthers and the 2015 squad that...

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

It's a shocker as Wolfpack just demolishes Tar Heels

Posted By on Sat, Nov 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM

KENAN STADIUM/CHAPEL HILL Even for the losers, it was probably going to be a decent season. Everybody was already going to a bowl game and both teams were heading in the right direction when 6-5 UNC hosted 6-5 N.C. State in their 140th meeting on a sunny but chilly Saturday afternoon. And bowl scouts from the preferred Belk Bowl as well as the Military and Independence were in the house. Each team was coming in off a convincing win over its other ancient natural rival, the Wolfpack a 42-13 rout over Wake Forest two weeks ago and the Tar...

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