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Houston Texans v Carolina Panthers

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It’s a game he’s had to have circled on his calendar since the schedule came out.  He won’t admit it.  And quite frankly, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that even uses the word “revenge” on a semi-regular basis but Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich has to be foaming at the mouth for Sunday afternoon.

His new team faces the team that gave him his walking papers and replaced him with a straight off the Get Up set Jeff Saturday.  Now, he’s the head of a rebuilding Panthers squad that traded up for Bryce Young, added some veterans in Adam Theilen, DJ Chark and Miles Sanders and just got their first win of the season.

It looked like a sexy matchup on paper ahead of games being played.  You had the Reich angle and then two rookie QBs in Young and Anthony Richardson facing off for the first time.  It was intriguing enough that it’s CBS’ lone 4:05pm game.  Fast forward to Week 9 and both teams are a combined 3-11, Anthony Richardson is out for the season and the storyline seems to purely be the possibility of Reich exacting some revenge on the team that gave him his walking papers.

Behind closed doors I have to imagine that even if he doesn’t say it, Panthers players know this game means a lot to their head coach.  I expect them to come out with as much piss and vinegar as a 1-6 football team can and do everything in their power to give their coach a huge second win.  The Colts will have to avoid falling into patterns that have cost them as of late: Shaky defense (especially in the secondary), the inconsistent offensive play-calling (Shane Steichen: feed Jonathan Taylor) and minimize the turnovers.

I predicted the Panthers would get the win and send the Colts to a fourth straight loss in my pre-season win-loss prediction article (don’t believe me?  Check my work here:

I still think that will be the case on Sunday. Not that I think the Panthers are better than the Colts overall but it just seems like a game the Colts have a history of coming up short in.  The unsurprising quietness at the trade deadline doesn’t give me any reason to think the Colts are doing anything than staying in a holding pattern for the rest of 2023.  They’ll do yet another roster evaluation and see where they are drafting.  They’ll accept the wins that come and bemoan the losses but at this point without Richardson it almost seems like a futile final nine games.

-Marc Dykton

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