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Friday Forecast: Panthers see light at finish line

You've probably heard the old coaching axiom that a season isn't a sprint, it's a marathon.

Or, in my case, it's a half-marathon Saturday at Kiawah Island.

Nice segue to write about myself, huh? Give me a couple of self-indulgent paragraphs and I'll relate it back to this NFL season, perhaps not seamlessly but close enough.

After my initial half-marathon at Kiawah last year, I proclaimed myself one and done as the rain dripped off me in the 45-degree weather after I had mercifully finished just in front of the marathoners who were seconds away from lapping me.

But I'm going back again this year with the same goal - of finishing the 13.1-mile event before lunch time. It starts at 8 a.m., a rude hour to do anything athletic in my mind, so you can do the math.

I won't disparage those who take these things seriously to call what I do running. They're not wearing a golf shirt.

Strangely, the longer the run went last year, the better I felt. At least that's what I told myself. That's the way things seem to be going for the Panthers, who are owners of a modest but encouraging two-game winning streak. Their marathon isn't over but they can see the finish line and they're getting better.

For me at Kiawah, making it to lunch will be a success.

ATLANTA at CAROLINA: This one's crucial for the Falcons' playoff hopes. Falcons 24, Panthers 23.

TAMPA BAY at JACKSONVILLE: There are three NFL franchises in the country of Florida. One of them is on a roll. The other two are in this game. Jags 20, Bucs 17.

HOUSTON at CINCINNATI: The T.J. Yates era has begun in Houston. Matt Schaub isn't worried - yet. Bengals 27, Texans 20.

MINNESOTA at DETROIT: What's the difference in Madonna and these two teams? She'll be at the Super Bowl. Lions 35, Vikings 27.

INDIANAPOLIS at BALTIMORE: What comes after 0-12? It's 0-13. Ravens 34, Colts 10.

NEW ORLEANS at TENNESSEE: Right now, the Saints look harder to stop than sundown. Saints 33, Titans 20.

PHILADELPHIA at MIAMI: Funny how life works. Matt Moore has helped make the Dolphins one of the hottest teams in the league while Michael Vick and the Eagles are the NFL's version of the Kardashians. Dolphins 31, Eagles 20.

NEW ENGLAND at WASHINGTON: Redskins left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis will miss the remainder of the season for failing multiple drug tests. I'm not sure which one is Harold and which one is Kumar, though. Patriots 41, Redskins 10.

KANSAS CITY at NEW YORK JETS: The Jets are like that creepy guy in accounting - they keep hanging around. Jets 26, Chiefs 14.

CHICAGO at DENVER: Here's how the NFL MVP race looks at the moment:

1. Aaron Rodgers; 2. Aaron Rodgers; 3. Tim Tebow.

Broncos 23, Bears 13.

SAN FRANCISCO at ARIZONA: Who knew the NFC West had two good teams? Cardinals 28, 49ers 24.

BUFFALO at SAN DIEGO: Between them, they've lost 12 of their past 14 games. That doesn't say much for the Redskins or the Jaguars. Chargers 32, Bills 28.

OAKLAND at GREEN BAY: There's not much I can say that 12-0 doesn't say better. Packers 37, Raiders 13.

NEW YORK GIANTS at DALLAS: Twice this season, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has made questionable end-of-game decisions, the latest coming when he called a timeout to ice his own kicker in a loss to the Cardinals on Sunday. Not every coach would have done it that way. Cowboys 29, Giants 27.

ST. LOUIS at SEATTLE: On Monday night? Really? Seahawks 29, Rams 23.

Last week: 11-4

Season: 117-53