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We made National Football Post's pressure index (for what it's worth).

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Honestly, I don't think expecting a winning record is outlandish at all.  We expected it last year at this time.  The prior two years, maybe not so much.  But throughout the Fox/Hurney era, we went into every year expecting a winning record (and of course we were disappointed more often than not).  I don't think that's unreasonable for those expectations to continue.

 

The difference is, if we don't meet these expectations now, heads will roll.  And they need to.

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I believe we are good enough to make the playoffs. However, we are in the NFC not the AFC. So grabbing one of those wildcard spots will be tough. Lets just say that packers, redskins, falcons, and 49ers taje their divisions. That only leaves two spots open. Teams left that could seriously be competing for them? Seattle, Saints, Bucs, Giants, Bears, Vikings, Lions, Cowboys, Philly, Rams, and us.......OUCH.

 

That list could and most likely will be our competition for a wild card spot.  Here is why I think we will be in over them.  

 

tl;dr at the bottom

 

 

The lions yet again failed to help Matt Staford up front.  He will be running for his life and chucking prayers up off his back foot all year long.  You can scratch them from the list.  

 

Philly is starting over completely, new coaching staff new secondary, new defensive and offensive schemes, but one thing has remained the same and it is a detriment above the rest Vick is still the QB.  Scratch them from the list.

 

The Vikings are hanging their hopes again to Christian Ponder, they hope their new receiver will boom instead of bust and they need Patterson to be able to make up some of the production lost by Harvin.  AP is a monster but the passing game will regress too much to balance that offense.  Scratch them from the list.

 

The Saints are retooling the worst defense in league history.  Not only that, they are changing to a 3-4 defense without the proper personnel to do so.  Payton is back at the helm and he will improve that offense and the team as a whole so they may have a better shot than the previous teams mentioned but they still suck and I say the South will prove to powerful for them to mount a playoff run this year.  Scratch them from the list.

 

The Bucs need to prove that they can stop the run now that teams just can't pass on them all day.  That D-line is scary, and not in a good way.  Freeman is as inconsistent as they come and this coach seems to run his players into the ground which could be a reason for the second half collapse last season.  They still aren't ready, scratch them from the list.

 

The Cowboys.  Tony Romo is now doing the game planning.... Scratch them from the list

 

The Rams are trying desperately to justify Sam Bradfords #1 pick status by giving him all the weapons we wish we could give Cam.  That Fisher defense will be good but that offense is just not going anywhere with Bradford at the helm.  They will still manage to beat the 49ers twice though.  Scratch them from the list.

 

That leaves 4 teams for 2 spots: Giants, Seahawks, Bears and Panthers.

 

The Bears have a locker room that was crushed by the departure of the much loved Lovie Smith.  It will take some time for the players to adjust and buy in to what the new staff wants to do.  No more Urlacher, an aging Peppers and even with rookie guard Kyle Long, an oline that would give David Carr flash backs will be the deciding factor for them next year.  Scratch them from the list.

 

The Giants are really twisting in the wind right now with the oft injured Hakeem Nicks and the hold out Victor Cruz.  These issues may be resolved by the start of the season, but add in the departure of Osi Uminyora, Chase Blackburn and some of their veteran leadership as well as further depleting the WR depth losing Domenik Hixon the Giants just missed the Playoffs again.  Scratch them from the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

tl;dr  Seahawks and Panthers make the playoffs as wild cards.

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The saints probably should be on that list too. Was last season an aberration, will Sean's return renergize this team, or are they on the downside of their run like Pittsburg.

 

Analysts pretty much view the Saints' last season as a product of missing their coach(es). Everyone expects them to bounce right back. If they don't, then you'll probably begin to hear the beginnings of grumblings (in its infancy, perhaps).

 

As for the Steelers, I don't know about being on the "downside of their run", but more like an adjustment period to right the ship towards greater things. Their draft of Jarvis Jones, LeVeon Bell, Marcus Wheaton, and Shamarko Thomas should make their doubters, subtractors and haters do a doubletake. History has proven that they are never really "out of it". Another smart draft---which they always seem to have---will put them squarely back as a top contender.

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I think that I might be the only person who thinks this Panther team could be special.  The "pressure" is one reason, but I really like what we have going on.  We are so underrated at positions it has caused this team to be questioned.  Last year was obviously not the year, but this year is.  Here is why...

 

We lost games because teams attacked our glaring weaknesses.  Nakamura cost us the game in Atlanta and Cutler and Marshall picked apart a fifth-round rookie from Coastal Carolina for another win.  We dominated both games.  If we won, would this article be diffferent?  I think so.

 

People think we are going to be chewed up in the secondary this year because we were last year.  However, the lights came on and they played fairly weill down the stretch.  Thomas, Norman, Dockery, Munnerlyn, DJ Moore, Mitchell, and Campbell were late-round draft picks with upside.  They have been developing on schedule. I expect to see a very average-not poor-secondary next year made better by the best front 7 in the NFL.

 

On offense, I think they know something we do not know.  I think Gettlemen was referring to pass catchers when he said, "Sometimes the best upgrades are on your own roster."  How many of us have written off David Gettis?  How many of us have considered why we did not sign a pass-catching TE and then thought, "Nelson Rosario," who spent the season converting from WR at UCLA (1000+ yards) by adding 10 pounds of muscle to his 6-5 frame?  How many think Joe Adams and Kealoha Pilares are done? 

 

The problems with the offense corrected themselves to a large degree when they ran a more conventional offense.  Expect it to continue--and expect our RBs to get some holes opened.  Silatolu and Kugbila will be dominant run blockers, something the "experts" seem to be overlooking.  We will run the ball to set up the pass.  The read option will be minimized and Cam will be better.  Yas got that right.

 

Teams ran the ball on us last year, but the real problem was a lack of pressure. That exposed our DBs.  Those days are over.  Expect teams to resort to a quicker passing attack, three-step drops and slants.  Remember that most of our DBs are not pure cover guys like Revis but they are ball hawks--this plays into that mindset.  Robert Lester, DJ Moore, Captain, Norman, etc. all have high interception numbers.  however, these players struggle when the QB can take a 5 step drop, survey the field and throw without pressure in his face. Again, those days are over.

 

The biggest factor:  They are writing off Cam Newton.  He is tired of the Luck, RGIII, Russell Wilson crap.  And who do we get for the first game of they year in Charlotte?  Russell Wilson.  Do you think Cam does not know that?

 

 

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Anything short of getting into the playoffs in any year is considered a failure imo. This year is no different.

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We're due for a winning season anyways.

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I believe we are good enough to make the playoffs. However, we are in the NFC not the AFC. So grabbing one of those wildcard spots will be tough. Lets just say that packers, redskins, falcons, and 49ers taje their divisions. That only leaves two spots open. Teams left that could seriously be competing for them? Seattle, Saints, Bucs, Giants, Bears, Vikings, Lions, Cowboys, Philly, Rams, and us.......OUCH.

And we play 8 of the 10 you listed. This is the biggest case of "control your own destiny" that I have seen in awhile
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If the D-Line comes along as expected, the best predictor for our success will then ride on how our O-Line holds up.  If that clocks in at above average or better, then we have a better than average shot at not just the playoffs, but pushing further

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The Panthers have a large opportunity to set the tone for their season early.

 

It will be interesting to see what they do.

 

Lose two big games at home in Sept to Seattle and the Giants, and well, same old Panthers.

 

Come out and look like an assured pro team with a Coach who has a clue how to coach a game, win at home, sky is the limit.

 

Momenteum means a lot.

 

If this team does not have a winning season this year, its over for Rivera.  I don't know what to think of him but until he beats a better team in the playoff hunt, meaning something to play for, I find it hard to think of him as much more than a nice guy who should have stayed a D-coordinator.

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