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Great record, good team. About those Panthers…

By: Kyera Stinson

Before their final regular season game had even begun, the Panthers danced around the thoughts of an undefeated season. While many have favored them to win the Super Bowl, there are many more that say it’s just not the time. Yes—the Panthers have accomplished a lot in the previous two seasons, winning two back-to-back division titles and going 15-1 in a season. But with the exception of the Seahawks and Packers, Carolina has yet to play a high-caliber considered team in the 2015-16 season and neither of those teams were anywhere near their best when they played them. The Panthers are a good team, but they need to do better. Here are a few reasons why they won’t win the Super Bowl just yet.

Ted Ginn Jr. did an unexpectedly great job filling in as the Panthers' No. 1 receiver this year but can he keep it going against elite cornerbacks like he'll see in the playoffs?

Ted Ginn Jr. did an unexpectedly great job filling in as the Panthers’ No. 1 receiver this year but can he keep it going against elite cornerbacks like he’ll see in the playoffs?

The Panthers defense has taken a big hit, losing effective players like veteran Charles Tillman, Bene Benwikere and other probable’s in their secondary. The line offers up too many yards for big plays on open holes and that is going to affect them in postseason play. Because of injuries, they are going to have to rely on their young guys a lot, including Lou Young who was just promoted from the practice squad.

This type of situation is not always a good case to be made. To take the pressure off those players, more production from the outside needs to be a key in focus. Although they did a number on the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day, the matchup showed how inconsistent they are from the pass rush. So far the Panthers have managed to put up pretty good numbers with 44 sacks and 24 interceptions, but they will be going head-to- head with more elite quarterbacks that will definitely try and get the ball out quickly against a slow secondary. Russell Wilson doesn’t have the best protection in front of him, but he showed us Wildcard weekend in a tremendous scramble touchdown play, why he is not a player to be taken lightly.

Aside from having to face pretty tough offenses in the postseason, the Panthers will have to play great offensively themselves. The playoffs are more intense and high emotions will be flying. The Panthers have struggled with big drops in the regular season and when facing top tier defenses watching, you can guarantee it won’t be happening again.

Cam Newton is a good quarterback and there is no doubt he’ll be highly considered for MVP, but there are some holes in his game as well that need to be filled before this weekend. Newton takes a lot of hits that many times resulted in not only negative yardage, but the opportunity for the other team to get a chance on the board. Newton will have to learn how to give it up sometimes, so his team can go another down; and that is something that should have been learned weeks ago. If he plays his same game and holds that ball even a second too long, the defense will eat him up.

Carolina’s top-ranked running game is also a bit of a smoke screen with a lot of the yard coming from Newton and the team having less effective running backs. The Seahawks showed the world last weekend why they are rated as one of the top in the run defenses in the league. If the Seahawks keep the run game down, including the quarterback rush, then Newton has to face the “Legion of Boom”, and if the Falcons showed us anything in week 16 it’s that part of Superman’s kryptonite is mixed with forced passes in the midst of a flustered offensive line. When a weakness is exposed, the other team will do everything they can to take advantage of it. The Seahawks secondary will be well aware and prepared.

Carolina has shown that they can’t control themselves when high emotions arise. If a player has no problem getting his own teammate in a choke hold, who knows what he’ll do in an extremely emotional and intensive playoff game. They don’t want to end up getting called for bonehead penalties on top of turnovers and sacks. Considering Josh Norman’s own recent fiasco lingering in the shadows, there is no telling what can happen.

Going 15-1 for the season is great, but history shows that those records hardly mean anything if you don’t come out with the trophy. They have some great things about them, but it has been almost three months since they have last played truly incredible football. Out of all 13 teams they played this season, ten were extremely mediocre, not nearly equating to the type of teams they will face in the playoffs; should they somehow manage to find a miracle in the Queen City of Carolina this weekend. Pair a solid defense with a tough offense and head into Bank of America stadium; there you will find a pile of overconfidence, an ego driven dancing quarterback and possibly another end to a dull streak.

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Kyera Stinson

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