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Received the Sports Illustrated NFL preview in the mail this week. They have Carolina winning the Super Bowl. Smoke another one, SI. Sure they have a good, maybe even dominating defense. But they have major questions about their run game and their WR corp features Steve Smith returning from a broken leg, 37-year-old Ricky Proehl and youngster Keary Colbert. Delhomme is a very good QB, but they will miss Muhammad--more than they think. Stephen Davis? I really doubt he'll provide much help this year. He's been in the league over 10 years, has been beat down and is coming off a major knee injury. Unless they have the greatest O-line ever (Psst...they don't), I just don't see it.

DeShaun Foster? He missed all of his rookie year, was mediocre in 2003 and played only 4 games in 2004. A team that has such instability in their running game and has also lost their top wideout doesn't look like a Super Bowl winner to me. I think their schedule is tougher than it looks and they could be in a heap of trouble early--just like last year. Last year, by the way, they beat SF, NO, ARZ, TB (twice), STL and KC. What do those teams have in common? Not one of them finished over .500. The Rams were 8-8. Not especially daunting.

They open up against the Saints. They may blow them out. But the Saints have that intangible of playing for all the victims in New Orleans. And the heart has its reasons the mind knows nothing of. Saints could pull it off. But even if Carolina beats them, they still have a rough road to hoe. Their bye is week 7. Until then they play: NE, @ Miami, GB, @ Arizona and @ Detroit.

The Super Bowl? I'd be less surprised if they finished last in their division than first.

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