The Carolina Panthers lost their first game of the season last week, but they're still hoping to clinch the #1 seed in the NFC with a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Here are three reasons why the Panthers will get back to their winning ways:
3) Dominant defense
You know about linebacker Luke Kuechly and cornerback Josh Norman, but what this defense is doing as a whole is extremely impressive. They rank fourth in the NFL in total defense (318.7 yards allowed per game) and ninth in points allowed per game (19.9) and are peaking at the right time. Most impressively, the lead the lead in takeaways with 36, which is three more than anyone else has this season. If the Panthers don't stop you, they'll take the ball away from you, which is good because...
2) Tampa Bay is turnover prone
This plays into the previous reason and the next one, but the Panthers won't turn the ball over as much as the Bucs will. Tampa Bay has committed four more turnovers this year than they've force, and they haven't played a defense as good as Carolina. Jameis Winston has been turnover-prone at times, which is to be expected from any rookie. The Panthers will win the turnover battle and the game.
1) Cam Newton's brilliance
Critics still doubt Cam Newton because he doesn't play the quarterback position in a traditional manner, but they aren't paying attention to how dominant he is on the field. Despite an obvious lack of notable offensive weapons, Newton has thrown for 3,544 yards and 33 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions while rushing for 626 yards and eight more scores. Most importanly, he's elevated the level of play of everyone around him so much that he's led a group of anonymous offensive players into an undefeated title contender.