Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 10/21/13
The Panthers are one of the strangest teams in the NFL. When facing outright bad teams, the Carolina Panthers look like one of the best squads in the league. Against competitive teams, it all falls apart for the Panthers. In their three wins, the Panthers’ margin of victory averages out to 26 points per game, ranging between 15 and 38 points. In three losses, the Panthers have lost by a total of just 22 points. The conundrum here is the Panthers have lost to a couple very mediocre teams. The Bills and the Cardinals, for example, are competitive teams, but they’re not blowing the doors off any team they face and are struggling to avoid turnovers. The Panthers are one of the least predictable teams in the NFL. One week they’re blowing out a league weakling and the next they’re turning the ball over like clockwork to one of the better teams in the league. The Panthers are a good team that can’t get out of their own way. Opposing teams aren’t beating them. Instead, the Panthers are finding ways to lose games they could be winning if they played sound football. The solution, unfortunately, isn’t as clear as the problem. On the bright side, there’s serious hope for the future. Cam Newton has evolved into a playmaker, but errors still plague the Panthers’ offense. With discipline, Carolina will be able to make the leap from the middle of the pack to being a playoff contender. Whether that happens this season or beyond is still up in the air, but at 3-3, the playoffs are by no means out of the question. For the Panthers to make the jump from the middle to the top of the league, Newton and the rest of the offense have to find ways to improve consistency. At their best, the Panthers can probably go toe to toe with any team in the league, winning many matches. The obvious problem is the Panthers’ best comes and goes rather frequently. By playing sound football and limiting mistakes, the Panthers may be able to push their way into a still open playoff race as we head past the halfway mark in the season. [follow]
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