Current Playoff Projection: NFC #5 seed (Wild Card)
Cam Newton is famous for his Clark Kent touchdown bit, but he was no match for the Superdome Supermen as the Saints continued to look unbeatable at home. Newton was constantly under siege with nowhere to go with the ball, and the Panthers' defense looked like it was Day One of the training camp zone install as Marques Colston found open spaces with ridiculous ease. Carolina can shake it off after a tremendous eight-game stretch, but even a victory in the rematch may not be enough to keep the Panthers off the road in the playoffs given the Saints' conference tiebreaker edge.
We saw what we needed to see in Sunday night's loss to the Saints on two fronts: 1) How the Panthers fared on the road in an important, nationally televised game; and 2) how their offense responded when forced to play from (well) behind. Is it panic time? No. But this team likely will be on the road in the playoffs. Carolina can probably beat Dallas, Philadelphia or Detroit, but what about Seattle or New Orleans? That's the question with this group.
The win streak ends at eight, but the upside is the Panthers will likely be forced to go without a playoff bye, which is fine because they tend to do poorly off of them anyways. Regrouping and starting a new win streak is now imperative.
Sometimes, when things are going well for you as a team, things just seem to fall into place. That’s what happened for the Carolina Panthers, who saw Mario Addison (+6.3) go out and dominate as a pass rusher as he filled in for the injured Charles Johnson. An undrafted free agent out of Troy State in 2011, Addison exploded in just the second start of his career, making life miserable for Miami Dolphins’ left tackle Bryant McKinnie.
He started as he meant to go on, beating McKinnie inside on the very first play from scrimmage, drawing help from the left guard in the process. That was just the beginning as he would go on to beat him inside for a pressure, then outside for a sack, both on third downs, in the first five minutes of the game alone. He didn’t let up as the game went on, beating him routinely and finishing the game with a sack, three hits, and six quarterback hurries, with all but one of those pressures coming against McKinnie.