The Carolina Panthers are talented enough to make the playoffs, but barring a collapse from the New Orleans Saints, they won’t be seeing the postseason this year. Despite a nice win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday night, the 4-3 Panthers aren’t strong enough to overcome all of the obstacles in their path to the playoffs.
Carolina is above .500 for the first time since the 2008 season, and hopefully the fans are enjoying it because it may not last very long. Of their remaining nine matchups, the only losing teams they face are the Bucs again, and the Atlanta Falcons twice. The winless Bucs are obviously not much of a threat, but the Falcons are not going to be any pushover.
They will also take on the Saints twice, the New England Patriots at home and San Francisco 49ers on the road. Unfortunately, the Panthers didn’t do enough with their soft early schedule to help them with their run through the brutal finish.
The NFC Wild Card race is much too competitive for Carolina to hope for one of the two spots. You have to figure either the Seattle Seahawks or 49ers will grab one of the Wild Card berths. As of now, it looks like there should be a good fight for the last spot with the Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and Chicago Bears, as the frontrunners, with the Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles also in the mix.
The Panthers are going to have to play out of their minds against tough competition if they want any prayer of seeing the postseason, and I just don’t see that happening. They were dominant on Thursday night against the winless Bucs, but I’m afraid it’s too little, too late. The competition will be too much from here on out, and they failed to make a cushion when they had the opportunity.