Following the Carolina Panthers' loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, it seemed like much of the fanbase was extremely upset with the result (rightfully so) and that the team is starting to fall apart. I'm here to calm you down and tell you, things are better than they seem.
Yes, the Panthers have lost two games in a row but if you look at the teams they've lost to, nothing is alarming. They're not out here losing to the Jets, the Giants, or Cowboys. They are losing to teams that will be playing deep into the winter months in the playoffs. The overall combined record of the four teams the Panthers have lost to (Raiders, Buccaneers, Bears, Saints) is 17-8. Not only have they lost to really good football teams, but they have had a chance to win in all four of those games, losing by an average of seven points, with the worst lost coming from Tampa Bay (14 points).
I hate trying to dress up losing as something good, but if you look at the makeup of this roster and you lose RB Christian McCaffrey to injury, this team has no business being in many of these games. Let's face it, many of us, including myself, didn't have the Panthers winning four or five games all season long and they've already snagged three including a win over the Arizona Cardinals, who, oh yeah, just beat the Seattle Seahawks in an overtime thriller.
Lack of experience and lack of depth aren't going away anytime soon. That's something that takes time to build and you're not going to see that take place by the end of this season. It's going to be a tall task for this team to come anywhere close to making the postseason. The NFC West could very well have three representatives from their division alone, which means your chances are slim. The schedule doesn't get any easier from here. After Thursday night's game vs Atlanta, the Panthers will travel to Kansas City to play the Chiefs, return home for the Buccaneers, then later in the season travel to Green Bay for a matchup with the Packers and then get the Saints again to end the season. Like I said, tough sledding ahead.
Through the first seven games of the season, it's hard to not be impressed by what this team has accomplished and not be satisfied with which direction they are heading in. As head coach Matt Rhule and his players say nearly every press conference, it's always about "getting one percent better" and it seems like every game, even in a loss, there's an area you can point to and see some improvement. So while it may be frustrating that the Panthers are losing close games to good teams, just think about where this team was expected to be and whether or not they're exceeding your expectations. They're hanging with the big boys now. Just wait until that depth and experience develops and is no longer an issue.
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