If the Carolina Panthers beat the New York Jets on Sunday, life returns to normal. The 31-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints fades into the distance. Another Saints game looms, but this time at home. The Panthers would be 10-4 and sitting pretty in the NFC playoff race.
But this is a game the Panthers can’t afford to lose. And shouldn’t lose. Although the Jets have won some big games this season, the fact remains they are 1-5 on the road and have a rookie quarterback who is tied for the NFL lead with 20 interceptions. If you can’t beat a team like that at home, you don’t really deserve a playoff berth.• If you are watching the game on television Sunday, remember that it will be found on CBS (WBTV in Charlotte) and not on the usual Fox outlets. The longtime NFL rule holds that when there is an interconference game like this one, the visiting team holds sway in terms of who televises it. CBS does AFC games and Fox does NFC games, so that’s why this one is on CBS, with Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf – a pairing I like – announcing it.
• Over-under on how many Rex Ryan shots we get during that CBS telecast? I put the number at 25.
• I have heard from a number of people who have had difficulty finding my new Panthers book, called “100 Things Panthers Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die.” Amazon.com, for instance, listed the book earlier this week as not being available for “1 to 3 months” because of high demand.
This should help a little. On Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., I will be selling and signing books at The Charlotte Observer building (600 South Tryon Street) as part of a newspaper event that will also include author signings by Kathleen Purvis and Ken Garfield. Come on by.• A number of folks have emailed me after my note last week about me wanting to hear from fans who have received a football directly from Cam Newton after a touchdown for a story coming up. However, I would still like to hear from others, too. Email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are one of those people or know somebody who is.
• Prediction stuff: I overestimated the Panthers last week and picked them to upset New Orleans on the road – an unwise choice. That dropped my seasonal record to 9-4 – the same as Carolina, although I have not picked the Panthers to win every week. My pick this time: Carolina 23, New York Jets 13.