The Carolina Panthers made the playoffs last season despite only winning seven games, but still picked up a playoff win over the Arizona Cardinals. Even without WR Kelvin Benjamin, who is done for the season with a torn ACL, the Panthers still have enough left in the tank to make a run towards the Lombardi Trophy. After an impressive 4-0 start, here are four reasons why the Carolina Panthers are legitimate Super Bowl contenders this year:
4) Awful NFC South
Carolina has to get to the playoffs before thinking Super Bowl, and the incredibly weak NFC South will give them the opportunity to clinch home-field advantage for at least one game. The New Orleans Saints are the definition of a "hide and go seek" football team and are 0-2. The Tampa Bay Bucs will have a rookie under center and they're...the Bucs. Atlanta is 4-0 as well, but they've played the weakest schedule in the league to this point and don't have a win over a team with a winning record - and it'll get much tougher for them down the stretch. Considering Carolina has the 27th easiest schedule in the league overs, the door is wide open for the Panthers to dominate.
3) Better Offensive Line
Play Byron Bell and Nate Chandler were the two worst offensive tackles in the league last season, according to ProFootballFocus, but new addition Michael Oher and either Mike Remmers or Daryl Williams will be starting ahead of them. The new combo doesn't need to be great - as long as they're somewhat average, they'll be a big improvement.
2) Incredible Defense
Let's take you back to January 3rd, Panthers/Cardinals in the NFC Wild Card Game. Carolina held Arizona to an eye-popping NFL playoff-record 78 yards of total offense en route to its rousing 27-16 victory. They're a top five defense again through the first three games, and they aren't showing any signs of slowing down. This is one of the NFL's best again in 2015, and they'll only get better once Luke Kuechly returns to the field after missing the last three games with a concussion.
1) Cam Newton's Dominance
Critics point to Cam Newton's unrealized potential, but most of them are working off of tidbits of secondhand information. Newton put up comparable numbers to his 2013 season from a projected 16-game perspective, even with a car accident and lingering health concerns weighing on him. He's continued to put up good numbers despite a lack of notable offensive weapons, throwing for 685 yards and five touchdowns while rushing for 144 yards and two more scores. Expect continued success from him this season.Back to the Carolina Panthers Newsfeed