December 03, 2015

LAS VEGAS (AP) Joe Gibbs believes the Carolina Panthers can become only the second undefeated team in NFL history.

The three-time Super Bowl winning coach said he's seen Carolina play twice this year and is impressed with its level of play.

''What they are, and I think they will have a chance for this reason, they are not winning it by skill plays or getting lucky on stuff,'' Gibbs said Thursday. ''They are pounding people. Sometimes, when they don't play as well, they beat you up. They have a good defense. Defense always leads you. They've got a quarterback making all kinds of plays. I think they are going to be hard to beat.''

The Panthers are 11-0 and close out the season at New Orleans, with two games against Atlanta, at the New York Giants and home against Tampa Bay. Only the 1972 Miami Dolphins completed a perfect season, going 14-0 in the regular season and winning the Super Bowl.

Gibbs, now a NASCAR team owner, said the Panthers' task will be keeping their intensity level high over the final five weeks of the regular season.

''The hardest thing in the world is to have a long string of wins ... you just can't get up that many times,'' Gibbs said. ''In sports, where everybody is pretty close, if you're down and somebody is up - the other thing that happens to you when you win a bunch of games, the other coach, for instance in football, the easiest thing in the world is to say, `Hey, we're playing the Panthers right now, they're undefeated.'

''All of you have to say is that and your guys are ready whereas the Panthers are trying to come up with some reason to play somebody that is 6-3 or something. So it's hard. The hardest thing in pro sports is to consistently stay up.''

Gibbs also had advice for Panthers coach Ron Rivera as he prepares for the final stretch of the season. There will likely be a push for Rivera to rest key players before the playoffs, but Gibbs said that can be tricky.

''I would always say, `Hey, we're starting everybody. We're going.' And I'd keep it that way all week, I'd practice that way all week and then when the game started, as soon as we got into it a little ways, I'd go, `Get them out,' '' Gibbs said. ''But don't tell them in advance. You tell them in advance, it's going to be a mess.''

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