For your own health, never play against the Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers are not a good team. They’re one of the worst teams in the NFL in fact. They’re trotting out a former XFL quarterback as their starter. They lost Christian McCaffrey and Robbie Anderson. They don’t utilize DJ Moore. They’re one of only two teams to have undergone a head coaching change this year. They’re near the bottom of the league in total offense, total defense, and passer rating. Yet, somehow, playing them in 2022 is bad news for your future.
See, this season, every team to have played the Carolina Panthers has lost the following week. In Week 1, the Baker Mayfield revenge game was thwarted by the Cleveland Browns and Jacoby Brissett. The Browns wound up losing to Joe Flacco and the New York Jets in Week 2. The loss was devastating as Cleveland led by two scores with a minute and a half to go in the game. In Week 2, the New York Giants beat the Panthers 19-16. In Week 3, they lost their home opener to the Dallas Cowboys. In Week 4, the Saints lost to Minnesota. The Cardinals lost to Philadelphia the following week. The 49ers should’ve had an easy win against Atlanta in Week 6. Marcus Mariota had one of the best games of his career as they trounced San Fran, 28-14. You’d think the Rams would be safe because they played Carolina in Week 6 and had a bye Week 7, but the moment Los Angeles returned to the field, even with a well-rested squad, they couldn’t avoid the curse. The 49ers demolished them.
Opponents are 0-9 this season in games immediately following a matchup with the Panthers. In Week 11, there are two teams on the chopping block: the Falcons and the Bengals. The Bengals played Carolina two weeks ago, but their bye was Week 10. The Falcons play Chicago and the Bengals play in Pittsburgh.
Chicago-Atlanta is a game that could go either way. Sure, Justin Fields has been red hot, but the Falcons seem to be a team that just doesn’t go away. They fight and scrap and as long as Marcus Mariota plays decently, Atlanta stays close and sometimes pulls out wins they’re not supposed to. On the other side, the Bengals absolutely should not lose to Pittsburgh. Tennessee Titans’ running back Derrick Henry has as many passing touchdowns as Steelers’ quarterback Kenny Pickett. The Bengals are well-rested and although they are playing on the road, the Bengals are objectively a much better team. That said, Pittsburgh has beaten Cincinnati once already this year, thanks to four interceptions from Joe Burrow. That’s the only game that Burrow has ever thrown four interceptions in. You can’t expect that same kind of good fortune via turnovers if you’re the Steelers, and considering that Cincinnati still took Pittsburgh to overtime in that game is indicative of how much the Steelers need bounces to go their way in order to come away with a victory.
So, if the curse is true and there is in fact some voodoo woman in Raleigh with a thing for immediate retribution for standing up against her Panthers, which teams benefit the most and least? Well, obviously, any team that plays a very strong team after the Panthers would be thankful the curse is wasted on a game they probably would’ve lost regardless. The Denver Broncos play in Baltimore Week 13 after playing Carolina in Week 12. The Seahawks play the Panthers in Week 14 and then get their second matchup against San Francisco. The 49ers already won their first matchup, so Seattle probably isn’t too thrilled about going into the game that could determine the division winner with an extra handicap. So, with that said, I think the 49ers are the biggest beneficiaries, even if they already suffered the curse earlier this year.
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I think the team that has to be the most upset though are the Detroit Lions. Yeah, they’re not great, but they have won two straight divisional games. Even if they can’t reach the playoffs, Lions’ fans would love the opportunity to revel in the fact that they swept both the Bears and Packers in the same season. Well, guess who the Lions play immediately after facing Carolina in Week 16. That’s right, the Chicago Bears. Thankfully, this game will be in Detroit, but if the curse is indeed real, then it won’t matter. Detroit will lose that game and then go into Week 18 without any momentum for their final game of the season against… you guessed it! The Green Bay Packers. That’s tough sledding.
Thankfully, this curse shouldn’t have any effect on the playoffs. The Panthers play the Saints in the final weeks of the season, and barring any miraculous turnaround, the Saints won’t be participating in that mid-January rumble. They’re last in the NFC South and still have to face the 49ers, Bucs, Deshaun Watson-led Browns, and Eagles, all of which will be on the road. If by some miracle the Saints do make it to the postseason though, be ready for disappointment in the Bayou. It won’t be a Cinderella story for long.