Projecting the Panthers’ Path to a Perfect Season
Of all the possible titles for an article going into Week 15, who would have thought that this would be one of them? Riding the play of MVP-candidate Cam Newton and their defense, the Panthers have not only put themselves in position to win it all, but to possibly make history as well. Let’s take a look at their remaining regular season and likely playoff matchups to see how they can finish the perfect season.
Week 15: @ NY Giants
As of the time that I am writing this, the Panthers are 5.5 point favorites over the G-Men. Carolina’s chances of winning this game lay with Josh Norman’s ability to contain O’Dell Beckham Jr. He’s proven plenty capable of controlling opposing wide receivers so far this season and, in truth, he doesn’t need to shut OBJ down to be successful. As long as he doesn’t get burnt, the Panthers offense should have no issues with New York’s defense. Very high win probability here.
Chance to win: Very High
Week 16: @ Atlanta Falcons
See: Week 14 results. There’s no reason why the Panthers shouldn’t take care of business again in Atlanta, though it would be in typical Falcon fashion to spoil the perfect season by finally playing up to their potential. Still, it’s hard to see this team as the one to take down Carolina.
Chance to win: Very High
Week 17: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers close out the season with a home tilt before going into a bye week for the playoffs. As with Atlanta, I can’t project a game script that would result in the Panthers losing here. The only potential for that would come from the Panthers themselves in the event that the starters rest. Ron Rivera has said before that he has no plans to rest his starters but, with the recent scare from Greg Olsen, he might change his tune.
Chance to win: Very High (if starters play), Low (if starters sit)
Divisional Round: vs Seattle Seahawks
After a bye week, it’s likely that the Panthers will get the Seahawks in their first playoff game. As I’ve written before, I’m not a believer in the Seahawks, and the Panthers have proven that they can beat them, doing so in Seattle earlier this season. While the Seattle defense has greatly improved since that game, the offense has lost their ability to run the ball. I have a hard time seeing Russell being able to pass on this Panthers defense and Cam should be able to move the ball enough to get the Panthers through to the next round.
Chance to win: High
NFC Championship Game: vs Arizona Cardinals
Just going off of projections and playoff seeding, the Cardinals would likely be the team to roll into Carolina for the NFC Championship. This is where the Panthers meet their biggest test of the season, right before a potential Super Bowl berth. The Cardinals defense is a top-5 unit in the league, who should be able to limit the explosive play potential that the Panthers sometimes rely on. On offense, the Cards can hurt the Panthers in a multitude of ways. If Norman is shadowing Fitzgerald the whole game, Carson Palmer can turn to John Brown, Michael Floyd and David Johnson. Having home field advantage is a crucial component for the Panthers going into this game. That alone may end up being the differentiator in helping them get to 18-0.
Chance to win: Toss-up
Super Bowl: vs New England Patriots
Last week, I declared the Bengals as the team to beat in the AFC, but a recent injury to Andy Dalton changed all of that. Even if he comes back by the playoffs, I’d have a hard time relying on him to get it done when it counts. That being said, the Panthers’ likely opponents in the Super Bowl would be a relatively healthy Patriots team. As long as Gronk and Edelman are playing, I like the Patriots’ chances to hang with any team. Tom Brady should be able to find holes in the Carolina defense, but the recent season ending injury to running back LeGarrette Blount will make it difficult for the Pats to run the ball against any team, let alone the Panthers. But let’s not get confused here, the Panthers are a much more well-rounded team than the Patriots. Cam Newton is playing as well as Brady has this year and, although you can never really count out Brady, I like the Panthers’ chances against New England.
Chance to win: Probable
As in most situations, the Panthers road to 19-0 will get much harder when they reach the playoffs. However, if they can pull it off, it’ll be all the more impressive considering the likely opponents they would have to beat in order to get there. These victories would include wins over a Seattle team that has made it to the two previous Super Bowls, an elite Cardinals squad, and a New England team that has been the best team in the league for over a decade. I like the Panthers’ chances to make history and, in my opinion, it couldn’t go to a more deserving bunch.
Kyle Kirby covers the NFL for MFST. You can follow him on Twitter @couch_qbhttps://www.myfantasysportstalk.com/projecting-panthers-path-perfect-season/https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/a-17.jpg?fit=600%2C465&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.myfantasysportstalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/a-17.jpg?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1AFC EastAFC NorthAFC SouthAFC WestAnalysisFootballNFC EastNFC NorthNFC SouthNFC WestNFLNFL PicksRecent Posts#Cardinals,#Giants,#Patriots,#Seahawks,bucs,Cam Newton,falcons,panthersOf all the possible titles for an article going into Week 15, who would have thought that this would be one of them? Riding the play of MVP-candidate Cam Newton and their defense, the Panthers have not only put themselves in position to win it all, but to possibly...Kyle KirbyKyle KirbyCouchqbkyle@gmail.comContributorKyle is a resident of upstate New York and graduate of Binghamton University where he majored in Education. A fan of all things sports, Kyle is also a self-professed wrestling nerd. Writing is one of Kyle's most passionate hobbies and he loves to get his opinion out there for the world to hear. You can follow him on Twitter @couch_qb.MyFantasySportsTalk