Confident Panthers aren’t changing anything

Panthers wide receiver Philly Brown doesn’t think the Super Bowl is any different than Carolina’s week 2 win at home against Houston. Or their road win at Seattle in week 6.

“I sound confident with all our games. I’m confident with this team about how we’ve been playing all year. I don’t think, when we execute, that there’s any team that can beat us.”

He’s one of several Carolina players that are nearly antithetical to some of the Denver roster. Where youthful exuberance meets veteran experience and the understanding that a loss can always happen.

Are the Panthers too confident? Maybe. But they’re one of the better teams the NFL has ever seen. Aiming to be one of only four squads in NFL history that have won 18 games in the entirety of a season.

Rookie receiver Devin Funchess said that they are sticking to their formula for success::

“We are just going in like we go in each and every week. Even though this is a bigger stage we’ve got to stay the same and continue throughout the whole process to do our thing. Nothing changes. We have Monday. Tuesday is our off-day. We have Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We’ll keep it the same and trust our process and go in there on Sunday and do what we have to do.”

It’s been an against all odds type of season for the Panthers. First, the depleted offensive depth got shallower when breakout receiver Kelvin Benjamin tore his ACL in training camp. And a free agent period that was relatively void of any notable signings.

And then a well-publicized fight involving star cornerback Josh Norman during the preseason.

Carolina was one of the last teams most people toiught would make a run at an undefeated season.

Quarterback Cam Newton said:

“For us to go through what we’ve been through, there were some tempers that flared, people had their opinions about that, but I don’t know a team that’s great that doesn’t take each and every opportunity that they get to try to get better, and that’s what we did.”

The adversity hasn’t quit for the Panthers.

Veteran linebacker Thomas Davis, a key member of the Panthers’ front seven, broke his arm in the NFC Championship game and plans to play Sunday with a plate in his arm.

One of Davis’ primary roles, a tackling menace in the run game, will need to be accomplished through severe pain and with a lack of mobility and grip strength.

But that’s just the way Carolina seems to like it.

Panthers subplots

Head coach Ron Rivers brought in former player Eugene Robinson, who gained infamy in the football universe after being his arrest the night prior to Super Bowl 33.

Robinson was caught up in a prostitution sting, and was ironically given an award for exemplary leadership in the community earlier that day.

The point was to send a message to the young team that they need to follow team rules — not that anyone with Carolina has gotten in trouble this year.

Newton said:

“It was shocking to most. I know a lot of guys didn’t expect that, but for him to have that attitude to open up his life and his story for us, we knew who he was and what he did for the Panthers, it just shows you what type of organization we have. A lot of guys wouldn’t necessarily be comfortable with telling everyone their story, but he did and he told us and I think a lot of guys kind of stepped back and understood the value and the importance of staying focused in an environment like this.”


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.