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CBSSports: Panthers Super Bowl Contenders


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#1 Saxist Fed

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:28 AM

130102_defense_inside.jpg

 

http://www.cbssports...-bowl-contender

 

 

The Panthers' defensive turnaround over the last two years is, frankly, remarkable. And it's got Carolina playing the role of Super Bowl contender as we head into the stretch run of 2013.

You can't overstate how important their win over the 49ers -- a physical, defensive, sometimes ugly 10-9 victory -- was for that organization. Teams don't roll out to San Francisco and punch the 49ers in the mouth on their home turf. You don't smack Jim Harbaugh around at home. Carolina just did.

"The Carolina Panthers needed this type of win," quarterback Cam Newton said afterward.

 

WEEK 10 GRADESPanthers get B+

 

Beating San Francisco felt like more than just a notch in the win column. It was validation of the Panthers play during a four-game win streak against lesser opposition. It was Carolina winning a close game, one of Ron Rivera's biggest issues in his three years there. It was proof Carolina can hang with anyone in the NFC, the very definition of a Super Bowl contender.

 

And it was a defensive victory, too. Point to Newton's low statistical output all you want, but having Luke Kuechly and crew there to carry the team when Cam's off is critical.

"I'm glad the game was on (the defense's) shoulders," Kuechly said. "One of the biggest wins I've ever had."

 

Two weeks ago fans would've signed off in a heartbeat on the Panthers going 2-1 on a three-game stretch against the Falcons, 49ers and Patriots. They're playing with house money now, though, having won two of those games and staring at an eight-day break before welcoming New England into Charlotte on Monday Night Football.

 

After that they've got the DolphinsBuccaneersJets and Falcons in addition to two matchups against the division-leading Saints. Is it possible they limp in at 3-4? Sure. But that looks like a worst case and would still put them in the hunt for a wild-card spot at 9-7.

 

More likely is that this team gets better. The last two seasons Carolina's closed out impressively, winning five of their last six in 2012 and four of their last six in 2011.

Over their last 16 games, Carolina's given up more than 30 points just once (in last year's season finale to the Saints). In the Panthers last nine games they've only given up more than 20 points twice, and have held opponents under 14 points six times.

 

They're straight rolling on defense and it's a far cry from where they were when Rivera came aboard. In 2011 the Panthers had arguably the worst defense in the NFL. First-round picks Luke Kuechly (2012) and Star Lotulelei (2013) have solidified them up the middle and the emergence of perhaps the best defensive line in the league -- featuring Lotulelei, Charles JohnsonGreg Hardy and Kawaan Short -- makes it easy to recall when the Panthers dominated with Julius Peppers, Kris Jenkins, Mike Rucker and Brentson Buckner in the early 2000's.

 

This unit might be better and it has a trickle-down effect on a pretty talent-thin secondary. Less time to cover receivers equates to better secondary play and forces quarterbacks into mistakes. Colin Kaepernick barely had time to get his bearings Sunday and was sacked more than four times for the first time in his career, with the Panthers bringing him down six times.

 

Mix in an offensive with the capability of putting up points in quick fashion, a developing quarterback in Newton and enough talent at running back to wear down opponents, and you have the sort of balance that contenders are made of.

 

1-3 feels like a season ago, not a month. The Panthers morphed into a contender overnight. Sunday justified giving them the hype from the previous four games.

 

Heading Home 
Carolina's win wasn't just good for the Panthers. The Seahawks and wideout Golden Tateappreciated it as well: 

"Ok I see u Carolina. We appreciate that!!!! We really do."

 



#2 Saxist Fed

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:29 AM

we're officially under the top tier microscope



#3 em_daht

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 06:32 AM

This just got me super excited all over again....

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#4 Saxist Fed

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:01 AM

This team has a special feel to it.

 

We've got an incredibly youthful, stout defense and an offense that can support wins.  When the offense clicks, we blow teams out, when it doesn't we still win.    



#5 SauceBoss

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:04 AM

chooo chooo



#6 Vampire the buffet slayer

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:13 AM

The ball bouncing our way on the Stewart fumble and the tipped reception to Olsen is the stuff playoff seasons are made of.

#7 Squirrel

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:15 AM

The ball bouncing our way on the Stewart fumble and the tipped reception to Olsen is the stuff playoff seasons are made of.

 

 

Yeah the team has a horseshoe up their ass.



#8 RoaringRiot

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 07:16 AM

The ball bouncing our way on the Stewart fumble and the tipped reception to Olsen is the stuff playoff seasons are made of.


I believe this, too, and keep track of the "little things" that happen in games that make a difference. We were actually -5 yesterday with all those drops. Yes the Tolbert recovery and tipped pass to Olsen were two in our favor, however.

#9 Jackofalltrades

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 08:03 AM

You REALLY want to be relevant?

Keep winning!

#10 Kyle82

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 08:21 AM

After sitting through these last four seasons of losing, that read was worth every bit of it!!
Go Panthers!!

#11 Huell

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:23 AM

Aaaaahhhhh fap fap fap.

#12 rayzor

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 09:27 AM

to all those who want us to be under the radar...sorry. we've been picked up.

 

no going back now.



#13 Mr. Scot

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:09 AM

I'm not ready to go as far as "Super Bowl Contender" just yet.

 

"Playing well" and "winning games" are enough for me right now.



#14 rayzor

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:25 AM

I'm not ready to go as far as "Super Bowl Contender" just yet.

 

"Playing well" and "winning games" are enough for me right now.

i think we are mainly because the rest of the teams don't look scary....esp. in the nfc. saints and seattle in their houses look like the toughest ones, but even in those settings they look beatable.

 

right now, we look as good as anyone. if the offense picks it up a little, we look better than pretty much everyone.

 

the good thing is, this offense typically gets better as the season goes on. 



#15 Mr. Scot

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Posted 11 November 2013 - 10:29 AM

i think we are mainly because the rest of the teams don't look scary....esp. in the nfc. saints and seattle in their houses look like the toughest ones, but even in those settings they look beatable.

 

right now, we look as good as anyone. if the offense picks it up a little, we look better than pretty much everyone.

 

the good thing is, this offense typically gets better as the season goes on. 

 

The NFC is full of bad football this season.  That's for sure.
 




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