How to cure a football hangover

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- If you've spent 24 hours in New Orleans, you've probably experienced that morning-after side effect that comes from downing one too many hurricanes.

It's called the hangover.

They're so prominent that they actually have remedies, from something called the hair-of-the-dog cocktail to a hot bowl of Yakamein soup, otherwise known as "Old Sober" concocted by somebody known simply as Ms. Linda.

Unfortunately for the Carolina Panthers, there is no food or beverage for the hangover the Saints left them with in a 31-13 drubbing Sunday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

So, it got me to thinking. What is the best cure for the football hangover? Here's what I got in an informal survey of Carolina players as they prepare to face the New York Jets (6-7) on Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

"We had a rough night, for sure," safety Mike Mitchell said as he recalled the game. "It just takes the next game. Get the reps and get the last game out of your system."

Center Ryan Kalil took it one step further.

"Wins," he said. "Wins are the best cure. That's it. More football. That's the thing about it. You get another opportunity to right the wrongs from the week before. It's not always a terrible thing."

Cornerback Drayton Florence doesn't believe there are hangovers in football. At least not with good teams, and he believes the Panthers (9-4) are a good team.

"Be a professional," he said. "No matter if you win or lose, you're always on to the next opponent. I don't think it will be a problem for our team. You win or lose, you get over it in a 24-hour period. If you're still worried about last week, obviously, you're not going to be as prepared as you should be this week.

"One game doesn't make our season. One game doesn't spoil our season."

So, if you were mixing a concoction for Carolina's football hangover, it would be pretty much like this:

Time: Coach Ron Rivera gave his players Monday to dwell on the loss, then turned the focus to the Jets. He still was concerned after Wednesday's practice, sensing players were disappointed. He made sure everyone understood a second straight loss with the Arizona Cardinals (8-5) breathing down their necks in the wild-card chase would not be good for their playoff chances.

A win: Nothing cures the sick feeling that comes from losing like a win. The Panthers have a chance to do that against a team that -- before Sunday's 37-27 win over Oakland -- had lost three straight and four of five. The Jets also are 1-5 on the road.

Secret ingredient: A Carolina win and losses by Arizona and San Francisco, plus a Dallas loss or tie; or a Carolina win and losses by Arizona and San Francisco, plus a Philadelphia loss or tie. Hey, it could happen. Not likely, but it could. And if it does, the Panthers are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008.

That would cure any hangover.

The biggest task is to make sure there is no Hangover Part II.