As the Panthers improved to 5-2, I asked myself, Are they actually realistic contenders in the NFC? Hidden away in the NFC behind the Saints and Rams, to me they are a dangerous team who are right on the bubble. And after watching the tape, I’m convinced they have a shot!
Eric Reed might have stolen some headlines earlier in the year when he became the first Panthers player to kneel for the anthem ever and with some of his antics notably that scrap and fiery affair against Malcolm Jenkins and the Eagles but he has given that defense an attitude for the first time since Josh Norman, the Panthers defense is loud and in your face, and I love it!
Eric Reed epitomizes what the Panthers now are, a team with a purpose. That purpose is a ring and a shot at Superbowl glory, in a stacked NFC and I think they might well get there.
The 8-0 Rams and the 6-1 Saints lead the way in the NFC and are considered the 2 real powerhouses but I see no reason why the Panthers should be ignored, despite defeats by the Redskins and Falcons 2 average teams, back to back wins against the defending champion Eagles and the stern defensive test that the Ravens present have suddenly got the whole NFL community to just have a little look over to Carolina and a bit of think, how far could they go?
Cam Newton is a quarterback who can split opinion, but he is electrifying and can generally excite and look to score or move the chain on every down either on the floor or in the air. With 4 rushing TDs leading the team, he has developed the ability to find any target on the field and move that offense, what Cam is also doing this year is looking after the ball, his TD:INT ratio is down on last year at this stage as a total and if he can keep that up, he might well be an outside bet for the MVP race behind Mahomes, Goff and Brees.
Luke Kuechly might be the most underrated defensive player in the NFL, he is a baller. When he is dropped in coverage, going by pro football focus metrics, he rates as the best lb in the league he also leads the team in tackles 47 solo tackles, 16 more than his nearest teammate. This combination is helping him to silently lead this defense to a stand out year.
Week 15 and 17 matchups vs the Saints will decide which of the 2 teams wins the NFC South and which gets a wildcard spot but on any given Sunday I truly think the NFC representative will be either the fancied Saints or the underdog Panthers. Personally, I can’t wait to see what this team can do this and every weekend till the end of the year!
Finally a nod to the boys at IceTheKicker Pod (Twitter) who asked which team is going most under the radar this year and identified the Panthers as one at the time of writing this article.
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