Through the first two weeks of the 2021 season, the Carolina Panthers are 2-0 with wins over the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints. The offense hasn't been quite as explosive as many thought but the defense has been fierce. Phil Snow has those guys playing at a very high level in all three levels, especially the defensive line.
Some figured that Carolina would make a big jump in year two under head coach Matt Rhule but the big concern was the team's lack of experience considering they are the NFL's youngest team. Not to mention, ushering in a new quarterback means they essentially hit the reset button this offseason and are starting over.
As you've probably read in many of my articles, the first half of the schedule is very favorable for the Panthers. The four game stretch at the end of the season could be problematic for Carolina, so jumping out to a hot start is even more important for this young team. Although the Panthers have a ton of youth, they're not playing like it. This group is doing a good job of playing complimentary football and not making very many crucial mistakes.
I've said it for years, the most dangerous team is a team playing with confidence and that's what the Panthers have put on display so far. Sure, the lack of experience is still there but the more this young group wins together, the more confidence they will have.
Regardless of how many starters the Saints were without, the Panthers won the game and in the end, that's all that matters. No one is going to look at the standings a month from now and make that excuse. Beating a division rival early in the season will have them believing they can compete not only for a spot in the playoffs but maybe even the division.
With two wins already under their belt and the Texans coming up on Thursday, this team's confidence should be through the roof come Friday morning. Texans' starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor is reportedly expected to miss Thursday's game due to injury, meaning the Texans will forced to start 3rd round draft pick Davis Mills.
Beyond the matchup with Houston, the Panthers have the Cowboys (away), Eagles, Vikings, Giants (away), and Falcons (away) over the next six weeks. I'm not going to make any predictions as far as how the Panthers will do in that six-game stretch but I don't see many losses in the near future. Should Carolina handle business, they will start to emerge as a team that will be mentioned as a playoff contender. This team has come a long way from a year ago and making the postseason isn't as much of a far-fetched thought as most would seem.
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