Excitement brews as Panthers' push for playoffs

Excitement brews as Panthers' push for playoffs

Excitement brews as Panthers' push for playoffs


by TONY BURBECK / NBC Charlotte

Bio | Email | Follow: @TonyWCNC


Posted on December 17, 2013 at 3:26 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Excitement is already brewing for this Sunday’s Carolina Panthers home game against the New Orleans Saints.

The bottom line is if the Panthers win, they will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

In the days after a Panthers win, the air seems cleaner, the sun shines brighter, people seem friendlier, food tastes better and smiles last longer.  Call it unconfirmed science.

Fan Jennifer Becraft gets caught up in the no-alcohol needed hangover effect.

"Yeah, we do it, we do it a lot,” she said. "You get to wear your Panthers gear the next day and not hold your head down in shame."

After the Panthers victory over the Jets, Robert Dawkins could use a throat lozenge.
"I was yelling so loud I think the neighbors could hear us,” he said.

His pipes need to be ready for the Saints, the team he considers the Panthers’ biggest rival.

(POLL: Who is the Panthers' biggest rival?)

"I know on paper we try to say the Falcons, but it never seems that the Falcons are having a good season or we're having a good season when we play each other, and over the history we've either kicked the Saints out of the playoffs or they've ended our season."

One team knocking the other out of the playoffs is just part of the game. But there's something else between the Panthers and Saints some fans still remember from a couple years ago.

Quarterback Cam Newton had a bull’s-eye on his back as one of a handful of players the Saints targeted in their bounty program, which eventually cost the Saints draft picks and led to coach Sean Payton's year-long unpaid suspension.

Fan Charlie Griffin remembers. It still upsets him.

“Oh yeah,” he said.

Dawkins says he's gotten over that, and just wants the win that gets the Panthers in the playoffs.

And if that comes against the Saints, it's just a little sweeter.

"If we could blow them out, that would be a great Christmas present,” he said.