By Keith Alrick @Kramerica100 on July 7, 2014
The Carolina Panthers were the surprise champions of the NFC South in 2013, and most people would be even more surprised if Carolina finds a way to defend that title. I think that those people will once again be proven wrong. Here are the top five reasons why the Panthers will stay on top of the NFC South.
The Panthers know exactly what it takes to win a division title. Being the defending champion doesn't guarantee anything, but it does give the team an added shot of confidence. This team took a big step last season, and I think they will find a way to build on it this season.
One of the biggest stories of the Panthers' offseason was the complete overhaul of the wide receiver position. Carolina replaced one of the weakest wide receiving groups in the league with four new faces. They might not be big names, but they are much bigger targets. Cam Newton has had issues with accuracy; bigger receivers should help him with that.
Cam Newton is entering his fourth year in the league, and I think it will be his best one yet. He is one of the most physically gifted players in the league. The biggest difference last season was his improved decision-making. He wasn't forcing plays as much, and it resulted in more wins. I think that Newton will continue to get better with that which will allow him to maximize his talents.
Ron Rivera spent the early part of last season on the hot seat. He decided to change his approach to game management and switched to a more analytic view. This new attitude gave him the nickname of "Riverboat Ron". Some thought he was foolishly gambling on calls, but in reality he was just playing the odds. This new approach makes him an asset because he is ahead of the curve in terms of decision making.
Carolina has one of the best defenses in the entire NFL. It all starts with their front seven. Luke Kuechly has developed into a star linebacker. The Panthers have a very good pass rush led by Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy. This is vital when you have Drew Brees and Matt Ryan inside the division. This defense will keep Carolina in a lot of games and will be the main reason that the Panthers win the NFC South in 2014.
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