Carolina Panthers: 2013 Week 1 NFL Buzz

It's easy to point to a five-game stretch on the schedule, beginning in Week 6 with trips to Cincinnati and Green Bay, followed by home games against Seattle and New Orleans and a visit to Philadelphia. Those teams were a combined 53-26-1 last season, with four winning their division and all five making the playoffs. However, I'm going to go with the first four games, at Tampa Bay, home against Detroit and Pittsburgh and at Baltimore. The Carolina Panthers have started 1-3 in each of their past three seasons. Another slow start followed by the five-game stretch above and they're done.

Complete Panthers season preview.

Locker Room Buzz: Carolina Panthers

September, 8, 2013
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Observations from the Carolina Panthers' locker room after a 12-7 loss to the Seattle Seahawks:

Down but not out: A lot of heads were hanging after Carolina lost for the eighth time in nine games decided by seven points or fewer going back to last season, but not at Steve Smith's locker. "I think we're going to see [Seattle] again deep in January," the wide receiver said of the playoffs.

Heavy burden: Running back DeAngelo Williams took full responsibility for the loss because of his fumble at the Seattle 8-yard line with 5:25 remaining and the Panthers trailing 12-7. "I'm taking all of [the blame]. Not part of it. It's all my fault."

Blame game: While Williams was blaming the loss on his late fumble, tight end Greg Olsen was taking the blame for dropping two passes, and left tackle Jordan Gross was taking the blame for the offense not being more productive in short-yardage situations. "We all have to be better," Gross said.

A postgame sign: A picture fell in wide receiver Brandon LaFell's locker as the room emptied. Unfortunately for Carolina, no passes fell into the hands of the receiver who was supposed to be No. 2 behind Smith.

The lighter side: Smith apparently follows ESPN's Skip Bayless on Twitter. In putting the loss to the NFC West's Seahawks into perspective, he said, "According to Skip Bayless, the best AFC team around." Smith was referring to this Bayless tweet during the preseason: "Must admit, Seahawks looking like more of a threat to New England in the AFC than Denver is right now."

Don't panic: Quarterback Cam Newton was for the most part upbeat even though the offense scored only one touchdown. "Everybody, let's not panic. We're going to be all right."

Labor Day rule: Somebody needs to tell Newton you don't wear white after Labor Day. But he did look spiffy in a white jacket with a blue pocket handkerchief. If only his statistics were as loud. His 125 yards passing was a career low. His previous low was 141 against Seahawks last year.