The Carolina Panthers entered the Week 14 matchup at 4-8 fresh off of a bye week. The Denver Broncos were also 4-8 following a hard-fought divisional loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. Neither team was in the playoff race but it still figured to be a competitive game. It ended up being a more high-scoring contest than most people expected. The final score was 32-27 with the Broncos getting the win in Charlotte. This was another tough, close loss for the Panthers. The silver lining is that Carolina will likely move up further in draft position after suffering its ninth defeat.
Here are our initial reactions following the Panthers' Week 14 loss:
Carolina should turn to a backup QB
Starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has had his ups and downs all season. In large part, he has been everything that the Panthers envisioned him being when they signed him this offseason. He's a great game manager that can make some plays when all of his playmakers are healthy. The problem is that he can't give a team much more than that. Carolina knows what they are getting with Bridgewater at quarterback. Now that they are completely out of the playoff race they should see what they have in their two backup QB's. Both P.J. Walker and Will Grier have limited NFL experience. The only way to see what they bring to the table is to put them into live game action. Bridgewater is under contract for the next two seasons. Walker and Grier have much more questionable paths to returning to the team next season. The last mistake the Panthers can make is letting go of one of them and they turn out to be a capable starter for a different team. This game and the 4-9 record are not all on Bridgewater. Still, the Panthers should use the last three games to turn to a backup just to see what they have in either Grier or Walker.
Carolina's defense has a promising future
The best players on the field have been Jeremy Chinn and Brian Burns for the Panthers the last few games. This was the case yet again in this game. Both Burns and Chinn have quickly become fan favorites in the Carolinas. They have been involved in just about every stop that the defense makes. Both players are extremely young and will be built around for years to come.
Carolina should shut down Christian McCaffrey
All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey has had an injury ridden season playing in just three games up to this point. He has missed time with a sprained ankle, shoulder, and thigh injury. The Panthers have absolutely nothing to gain by putting their star running back out there again this year. With the latest loss, they would be smart to rest him until next season. Head coach Matt Rhule has been extremely cautious with his players. I expect that we have seen the last of McCaffrey until August of 2021 at the earliest.
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