2014 NFL Playoffs: 5 Reasons Carolina Panthers Don’t Have What It Takes
5 Reasons The Carolina Panthers Don't Have What It Takes
Every year there's a feel good story type of team that goes from crappy to non-crappy/playoff team (Try saying that five times fast). This year, that honor goes to the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers. For now, let's focus on the Panthers.
The Panthers started out 2013 much like they have the past few seasons, back-to-back losses in heartbreaking fashion to the Seattle Seahawks and Buffalo Bills, and everyone was saying that they were the same old Panthers. Just when everyone was sweeping them under the rug, the Panthers went on an absolute tear, winning eight games in a row including, back-to-back wins against the San Francisco 49ers and the New England Patriots. During the win streak, most people believed the Panthers would be a wild card team, and that’s how it appeared until the Panthers took that spot from their division rival, the New Orleans Saints, with a comeback 17-13 win in Week 16. To sum it all up, the Panthers went from a loser to a wildcard team to the No. 2 seed in the NFC. Head Coach Ron Rivera went from most likely coach to be fired first during the season to a coach of the year candidate. The turnaround this team made is nothing short of remarkable.
The real question, however, is can the Panthers go all the way? They’re likable and people will get behind them, but I wonder if they’re in the right place at the wrong time. The following are five reasons while the Panthers will fall short in the playoffs this year.
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5. 29th Ranked Passing Attack
In today's pass happy NFL, you have to be able to? Anybody? Bueller? Pass the ball, duh. The Panthers' defense is really good, but they're not exactly the 2000 Baltimore Ravens. Basically, if they get down by 14-17 points, that could be all she wrote.
4. Banged Up Steve Smith
Panthers star wide receiver Steve Smith missed last week's game against the Atlanta Falcons with a sprained PCL. Coach Rivera believes Smith will be ready to play in the Panthers' upcoming Divisional Round playoff game, but clearly he won't be 100 percent. When you have a struggling passing game to begin with, the last thing you need is for the No. 1 guy to be ineffective.
3. Average Running Backs
DeAngelo Williams is an okay running back, but okay is about it. Jonathan Stewart is a very effective big bruiser type back when healthy, but he hasn't been healthy pretty much all season. The Panthers do have the 11th ranked rushing attack, but a lot of that has to do with Cam Newton. When your most effective way of moving the ball is having your QB run, then you have problems.
2. A Possible Trip To Seattle
Should the Panthers survive their home tilt in the second round, they would likely have to travel to Seattle for the NFC Championship. The Panthers played the Seattle Seahawks tough in Week 1, and with their defense, they would have a puncher's chance of going in there and winning, but could you imagine if the Panthers even got down by 10 points in that game? Forget about it, game over.
1. Lack Of Experience
Ultimately, I get the feeling that maybe the Panthers are just glad to be at the dance after not being there for a few years. In a way, the Panthers need to pay their dues and suffer a little heartbreak before going further. If it comes down to the wire against a Green Bay Packers or San Francisco 49ers, I would go with either of them over the Panthers because of them being more experienced playoff teams. Sorry, Panthers fans, it's just not meant to be.