Carolina Panthers: Are They a Contender?

By Robert Cooke
Cam Newton
Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

With back-to-back wins against the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots under their belt, the Carolina Panthers are telling the NFL that they’re a force to be reckoned with.

Quarterback Cam Newton is playing out of his mind, and this Panthers defense is playing lights out.

Newton seems to be running the lone offense in the league that has remained sufficient at running the read-option. He hasn’t been making nearly as many mistakes this year as he did in his first two seasons, and he’s truly polishing into one of the better quarterbacks in the game.

He’s lived up to the No. 1 overall pick that Carolina used to snag him in the 2011 Draft and has this well coached Panthers team in the hunt for a playoff spot.

The heart and soul of the defensive unit for the Panthers is inside linebacker Luke Kuechly who is making a strong argument for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.  He’s the leading tackler in the NFL since entering the league last year as a rookie and has proven to be the key to the success of this Panthers defense.

Carolina has the No. 2 overall defense in the league and has showed up in big games. Phenomenal play and showing up in big moments helped this team to a 7-3 record.

They have a tough road ahead of them. This very stingy Ron Rivera coached team has to yet to face its NFC South division rival, the New Orleans Saints. They face off twice, and the Saints are flat out good. Should they beat the Saints, even only once, they most certainly will secure themselves a wild-card spot and a shot at the postseason for the first time in Newton’s career.

This Panthers team is tough and they deserve a shot at the playoffs. Week in and week out they’re getting better, and they could really make a run at the NFC crown.

Don’t be surprised if this resilient Panthers team makes a run deep into the postseason.

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