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Joe Ovies

Panthers showing playoff potential

Posted October 25, 2013

Carolina's 31-13 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Thursday night put the Panthers above .500 for the first time since 2008. That's a span of 71 games in which the franchise trudged wearily through quarterback changes, draft mistakes, various incarnations of the coaching staff and a switch in general manager.

Folks who hadn't checked out on the Panthers altogether were clamoring for more change as recently as four weeks ago. Who could blame them, considering Carolina was losing games in the same brutal fashion from the previous two years? Head coach Ron Rivera dealt with reports that the front office in Charlotte was vetting possible replacements, and quarterback Cam Newton was a sports talk radio piñata.

Amazing what a three-game winning streak in the NFL can do for the general discourse surrounding a team. Playoffs? Actual possibility. Newton is blasting Drake in his headphones, and nobody would blame him if he told folks asking to get back on the bandwagon "no new friends." Rivera looks like an extra in "Last Vegas," where old dudes are throwing caution to the wind to prove they still got it.

Teams are what their record says they are, and at 4-3, the Panthers aren't suddenly Super Bowl sleepers because they've reeled off wins against teams with a combined 5-22 record. The important takeaway is that Carolina is doing what its supposed to be doing against the dregs of the league and putting themselves in position for a playoff spot.

Carolina has a defense sitting near the top of most statistical categories, and they haven't given up a first-half touchdown through eight weeks of the season. The Panthers' offense is finally taking advantage of the defensive starts, utilizing their running game to open up the rest of the play-calling and converting in the red zone. 

Newton continued his run of mistake-free football on Thursday with 221 passing yards on 23-of-32 passing and two touchdowns. He added 50 yards and another touchdown on the ground. Newton took three sacks, but he was 11-for-15 for 84 yards against five or more pass-rushers.

In the last three games, Newton has a 130.3 passer rating. He's completed 58-of-75 attempts and thrown for 667 yards in that stretch, tossing six touchdowns and punching in two on his own. 

Rewind to the first half against Arizona, when Steve Smith dropped a touchdown pass and Brandon LaFell couldn't hold on to a fourth down conversion, marring an otherwise snappy effort out of Newton. Had the Panthers put numbers on the board instead of balls on the ground, we could be discussing a five-game win streak instead of the three that just gave them a winning record.

Carolina faces an unimpressive Atlanta Falcons squad that has come crashing back to Earth after last season's run next. They'll see the disastrous Tampa Bay Buccaneers again and host the wildly inconsistent New York Jets. They also have a winnable game against the Miami Dolphins, who don't have an offensive line to protect Ryan Tannehill.

Congratulations, Panthers. You're back to being interesting.

26 Comments

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  • HopingForABetterWorld Oct 25, 2013

    PLAYOFF POTENTIAL? Their four wins have come against teams with a combined record of 5 and 24 if my math is correct? And at least one of the victories for those teams was against another one of them.

  • Obamacare is here Oct 25, 2013

    dia-beetus, also known as "the beetis" is infact not a unique strain of marijuana, but rather the reference to Wilford Brimley's bumblef*ck speech impediment, and inability to pronounce the word diabetes. After Wilford Brimley's day-view on liberty medical commercials, "the beetis" spread like an std in a bro-infested frat house over the continental United States. Dia-beetus quickly became a youtube sensation, providing such hits as "rock me diabeetus" and "the funky diabeetus". The Billy Mays of yesteryear, Wilford Brimley's walrus like mustache and comforting hand motions will forever live on in the commercial brakes of late night television, and more importantly in the hearts of the American people.

  • 75Tarheel Oct 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    It's great to have an optimistic poster. But you need just a touch of realism to go along with it. Hoping it will happen doesn't make it happen.

    They could win the Division IF they can split with the Saints. They probably won't beat the other Division leaders though. And they could easily lose 3 of the next 5. As they could December's schedule. BUT if they can go 6-3 for the remainder of the season getting into the playoffs (and into 2nd round) would be a great first step to building a great team in the next few years and keeping it that way.

  • jonstewartrules Oct 25, 2013

    "Playoff POTENTIAL" here folks. The author was expressing the idea that at this stage of the game, there is a POTENTIAL for a Playoff spot, based upon some relatively easy games left on the schedule. Not THAT hard to comprehend???? That and the fact that having played one of the BEST teams in the NFL and kept them to a 12 point game (even in a loss), their defense IS capable of preventing a high-scoring game from a top notch opponent. With 4 more games that Carolina is fully capable of winning, that would give them no less than an 8-8 season, which in the past has been good enough to get some teams in the Wild Card spots. And this year, that could certainly be a possibility. With just one or two quality wins in addition, Carolina would be in a good position to secure a playoff spot regardless. So there is the POTENTIAL for a playoff possibility. Nothing more, and the author never claimed otherwise. There is of course the POTENTIAL for a complete collapse as well. Please, READ and COMPREHEND.

  • taskmaster27858 Oct 25, 2013

    Panthers gonna win it all!!!!! And hope that Cam does the Superman thing all the time!!!! Just too pi ss all of yall losers off!!! hahaha

  • rushbot Oct 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    nope..i have no dog in the fights out here in the acc..i grad out west in the rocky mountains before i went off to defend everyone's way of life against all enemies, foreign and domestic.. ..i root for all of the teams in the state, including cullowheeeeee...i must confess i am a fan of duke b ball..my heart doc is the head of the transplant program there, so i sort of kind of like that school..i am a russell wilson fan..i like his attitude!!!

  • Go Lee County Oct 25, 2013

    how can one brag about the D being so good when the teams they play suck???

  • Xanroc Oct 25, 2013

    OK, so the Punksters can beat the worst teams in the league, but does that make them into payoff contenders, I don't think so. Cam the Scam can find his primary receiver and if he is open, he can get the ball to him. If the primary receiver is covered, he either holds the ball too long or he runs. Secondary receivers are nothing more than down field blockers, because Cam the Scam doesn't know where they are going to be and can't find them. Under Cam, they have never come from behind to win a game or even won a close game in the fourth quarter. Geno Smith has done both with less talent six games in his rookie season.

  • Coach C Oct 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    too bad we couldn't play the Jags to make it a clean sweep of da seller!

  • NCheatStateU Oct 25, 2013

    View quoted thread


    Are you and N.C. State Fan?

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