Monday morning had to feel pretty darn good if you were sitting in on the game films in the Carolina Panthers war room. Carolina pretty much humiliated a talented New Orleans Saints team just a week removed from suffering a similar fate at Tampa Bay.
Jake Delhomme and the rest of the Panthers are determined to not let that happen again.
The Panthers seemed as though they were two completely different squads over the course of those two weeks, and this week they face a dangerous Cardinal squad that is surprisingly leading the NFC West.
The Panthers match up well against the Cardinals as they should be able to move the ball effectively on the ground. That is the barometer for the Panthers, and where they butter their bread on Sundays when they win. Everything starts with the run in Carolina.
The real question is going to come when the Panthers try to shut down yet another high scoring aerial attack led by Kurt Warner. Warner is among the best in the league when he is on his game, which has been more often than not so far this season.
Warner has been known to get rattled against a strong pass rush, however. This is the opening that the Panthers should be able to take advantage of. The Panthers should be able to put some heat on Warner, and maybe force some turnovers.
Carolina Panthers fans are enjoying a resurgence of a defense that has returned to glory once again after last seasons very average showing. Julius Peppers has returned to form and seems even better this season than in his first two years when he was considered one of the best in the league.
What makes Peppers special this season is his improved run support. While not getting large quantities of sacks, he is around the ball constantly. That is bad news for the Cardinals.
Another area of the game that Carolina should be able to exploit is the vertical passing game. Delhomme and Steve Smith are starting to get that groove on, and when they are clicking they are unstoppable. Smith exploded in week seven with yet another 100+ yard receiving game and another touchdown.
All in all, the Panthers should beat the Cardinals on Sunday and head into the bye week with a solid 6-2 record. With Oakland and Detroit on the docket when they come back, the Panthers could be at 8-2 through ten games of the 2008 NFL football season.
What more could Panther fans possibly hope for?