Originally written on The Sports Headquarters  |  Last updated 10/1/12

Couldn’t have asked for a better scenario. The Pathers showed clear signs of improvement and I was able to successfully pick Atlanta as the victor. Sadly, my man Cam Newton pretty much played 57 minutes of great football before transforming into the goat and costing his team the game. Never a good thing when K.M. Venne and Bryan Doherty are avid Cam Newton haters. How can one hate Newton some may question? Well, internet, I’m really not sure. Newton is a fun loving guy who does as much as he asks his teammates. He could easily be a diva and demand Ron Rivera’s head on a silver platter, hand delivered by Captain Munnerlin. But no. Not Cam. He just keeps making Under Armor commercials with Tom Brady, asking for tips and soaking in as much greatness as possible before making some Gatorade commercials with Michael Jordan, then some Dre Beats commercials with… Ummm… Matt Kemp? Inside scoop: Cam will be plowing Rihanna within the next year. More power to you Cam!

But in all seriousness, is anyone even close to Matt Ryan in the MVP race right now? No one on his own team is worthy of consideration, so that’s good. The Texans don’t have many standouts worthy of competing with Ryan. Both Eli and Peyton Manning can go play keep-a-way from Cooper at Manning compound for all I care- they’re not winning this award. If you want to give the award to an entire defense (which I don’t) I suppose the Cardinals would be a worthy play here. But when it comes down to individuals, no one is touching Matty Ice throught the quarter mark of the season. Guy is just making it rain all over the place, and with that arsenal around him it’s about time.

No one really talked about it, but I have to believe Ryan was quietly on the hot seat coming into 2012. After wrapping up his third consecutive postseason loss in embarassing fashion, Atlanta’s seemingly wide open window of opportunity seemed to be dwindling quickly. Julio Jones and Roddy White have now emerged as possibly the most deadly receiving duo in the entire league, thanks in part to the development of Ryan. Tony Gonzalez continues to pad his Hall of Fame statistics while Michael Turner remains one of the more consistent backs in all of football. These five players make the Falcons’ offense as potent as it has been so far this season. Without one, the others seem to pick up the slack. Against Carolina, Turner and White both accrued over 160 total yards each and three combined touchdowns.

For the Panthers, it was a game to build upon heading forward. Carolina is now 1-2 in the division with their lone win coming against the lowly New Orleans Saints at home. Their defense continued to struggle, their running game continued to be non-existent, and they still almost beat the hottest team in the NFC. Newton led the Panthers in rushing yards for the second time this season, something the Panthers desperately need to work on. How much longer will they receive the benefit of being the young, up-and-coming team?

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