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Curious fans will make Patriots-Panthers a big winner for ‘MNF’

Another winner Sunday: Monday Night Football.

Carolina’s upset of San Francisco will entice curious fans around the country to tune into next Monday’s game – New England at Carolina. The Patriots are 7-2. The 6-3 Panthers have won five straight. The Panthers are new money, the Patriots old money.

The Patriots have long been elite, and the Panthers are scrambling to get there. If you want a ticket to one of Carolina’s four remaining home games, incidentally, you better act now. Don’t expect one for Carolina-New England. The game is sold out.

• I like stadiums that are older than I am. But there’s a video screen mounted on the south end of Candlestick Park that is smaller than my TV. If a NASCAR race were televised, the cars would look as if they were made by Matchbox. The Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers look like G.I. Joes – the new G.I. Joes, not the old ones.

• I don’t listen to the TV feed because I don’t want to be influenced. So I didn’t hear an explanation. But Vernon Davis’ first-half fumble looked like a fumble to me. Carolina safety Mike Mitchell stripped Davis, San Francisco’s tight end, after Davis caught the ball and held it. He had possession.

The play was ruled an incompletion, however, and replay officials declined to overturn the call. The ball should have been Carolina’s since Thomas Davis recovered it. Instead, the 49ers kept it at the Carolina 6.

• San Francisco is noted for its beauty, food and California cool. The image does not apply at Candlestick Park. Fans come to cheer and they do. The crowd in Minnesota on Oct.13 was louder because the stadium is covered and the noise has no place to escape. Candlestick fans are tremendous. They were loud until the game ended. And then they weren’t.

• I picked the Panthers to win by a point in Sunday’s Observer and on John Boy & Billy on Friday. If you want to call me Nostrathomas, that’s your option. I, however, will not refer to myself that way. In the interest of accuracy, I’ll try not to refer to myself that way.

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