Are the Carolina Panthers on the Way to a Rather Dubious NFL Record?
Last year during the regular season and NFC playoffs, it was all rainbows and caviar for the Carolina Panthers. They simply stormed through the regular season with a record of 15-1 before beating two playoff opponents by an average of 20.5 points. Of course, they were completely shut down in the Super Bowl by the Denver Broncos, but everyone was expected back for an encore performance in 2016.
While another 15-1 season seemed a bit far-fetched, pretty much anyone with inkling about NFL football predicted the Panthers would easily win the NFC South and head back into the playoffs with an excellent chance of making it two trips to the Super Bowl in a row. Not so fast, grasshopper.
Heading into week #6, the Panthers are tied for dead last in the NFC with a record of 1-4. Even more unlikely is the fact they have been put in this position in spite of an offense that ranks 3rd in the NFL with a little over 392 YPG. These numbers seem to defy logic, which demands a quick look under the hood to see what's amiss.
Last season, the Panthers ranked 1st in the league for scoring offense with 31.3 PPG. Therefore, scoring is down by a TD as they currently sit at 24.6 PPG, and that's a problem. Total yards are actually up from last year's 366 YPG, but the distribution of yards has changed. The rushing attacked has fallen off a bit from 142 YPG last year to 124 YPG this year. Most of that is due to QB Cam Newton having difficulty getting outside the pocket.
There's the rub and it goes all the way back to the Super Bowl. It wasn't just that the Broncos shut down the Panthers; it was the way they completely shut down Newton's ability to run in the open field. What the league soon discovered was Newton is a quite ordinary QB when he has to throw the ball. Last year, he threw 35 TDs with only 10 interceptions because he was able to scramble and create. This year, defenses are taking a page from the Broncos' playbook and boxing him in, forcing him to be a pocket passer. The result has been only 6 TDs and 5 interceptionsthrough 4 games.
Another key factor in the collapse has been the inability of the offense to hold onto the ball. Through its first 5 games, the team has turned the ball over 14 times, and that's not going to cut it in the NFL. As for the defense, they have allowed a few more points, but the numbers are similar to last year.
In 1998, the Atlanta Falcons went 14-2. The following season, the wheels came off and those same Falcons fell to 5-11. If the Panthers can't find a way to right its wayward ship in a hurry, they could easily find themselves in the NFL record book as the team that had the worst collapse from one season to the next in history.
This article was written by Tony Samboras who is an expert sport and economic predictor. Tony is also a football fanatic and English Premier League follower. For those who serious about their gambling on the go, check out his recommended best betting apps before you start betting.