Three reasons why the Panthers can win it all this year
With playoff football on the horizon, it’s Super Bowl or bust for all 12 teams. FOX Sports NFL insider Alex Marvez gives three reasons why each team will win the Super Bowl XLIX.
The respect factor: Opposing head coaches should worry about their players taking the Panthers lightly simply because of their record. That would be a big mistake. Just ask the 2010 New Orleans Saints, who lost in the first round against a division champion (Seattle) that entered the postseason with an even worse mark than Carolina. The Panthers did go 62 straight days without a victory at one point this season but have since won four straight games en route to winning the NFC South. Only Seattle (six) enters the playoffs with a longer winning streak.
Physical play: Carolina’s turnabout was spurred by the resurgence of its running game and stinginess on defense. The Panthers averaged almost 200 rushing yards in their four December victories, led by the oft-injured Jonathan Stewart. The defense finally adjusted to the absence of defensive end Greg Hardy, who is serving a de facto paid suspension following a domestic violence conviction, and are again fielding a strong pass rush. The Panthers haven’t surrendered more than 301 yards or 17 points in their current winning streak.
No fear of Seattle: Should the Panthers defeat Arizona on Saturday, a trip to Seattle looms for a second-round playoff matchup. Carolina won’t be intimidated. The Panthers hosted the Seahawks in each of the past two seasons and barely lost by scores of 12-7 (2013) and 13-9 (2014). Carolina is quite capable of winning another slugfest even on the road against the NFC’s top seed.