The Carolina Panthers went into their Week 10 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers as seven-point underdogs. This was a bit surprising considering Carolina had won four straight games, but NFL fans across the country took one look at the Panthers’ schedule and immediately identified Ron Rivera‘s team as a pretender and not a contender. However, the Panthers’ five-game winning streak is likely to make a believer out of even the most devout critics.
Now, the Panthers’ bandwagon is overflowing with fans and the defense is a big reason why. Colin Kaepernick is hardly an All-Pro, but the Panthers made him look like a high school quarterback on Sunday as he finished the game with 91 pass yards, six sacks and one interception to end the game. Charles Johnson is one of the most underrated defensive ends in the game as he added 1.5 more sacks in Week 10 to bring his season total up to 8.5.
Luke Kuechly is a Panthers’ fixture on that side of the ball as much as Cam Newton is on the offensive end. And with a pivotal Week 11 game against Tom Brady‘s New England Patriots and two games left versus Drew Brees and the division-leading New Orleans Saints; the second-year linebacker’s defensive group will be tested.