NFL: Panthers Season Update – Winning Season?

Panthers+jersey

Via wikimedia commons

Panthers jersey

The NFL season is in full swing as the Monday Night matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys will round out Week 3 of the regular season. There have been many surprises throughout the season, such as a few undefeated teams that no one expected to be at the top. 

 

These teams include the Las Vegas Raiders, Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, Denver Broncos, and the Carolina Panthers. Out of these teams, the Panthers were seen as the least likely to be successful this season. So, why are they doing so well? Atop their division, Carolina’s season is looking rather promising. But, Carolina had the 26th easiest schedule entering the 2021 season. 

 

 In week 1, they faced off against rookie quarterback Zach Wilson and the New York Jets at home. They were able to beat the Jets in a close game, 19-14. The following week, the Panther’s stellar defense shut down Alvin Kamara and the New Orleans Saints, defeating them 26-7. This week, they defeated the Houston Texans easily, by a score of 24-9. These three teams have an accumulative record of  4-5. That would be below the league median, which isn’t good.

 

The undefeated run might slow down with recent important injuries, such as superstar running back Christian McCaffery and rookie Jaycee Horn. The recent trade between the Panthers and Jacksonville Jaguars sent C.J Henderson to the Panthers, replacing the injured Horn at the cornerback position. Although they were able to replace Jaycee Horn, McCaffrey is irreplaceable. McCaffrey has easily been the best player on the Carolina roster, and this is a big blow to the Panthers. McCaffery was injured for a lot of last year’s season, so the Panthers have been through this before. He suffered a high ankle sprain during the Panther’s week 2 matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Christian recovered in 7 weeks but got injured the very next game, suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He injured his hamstring in week 3 and is expected to return in a few weeks. 

 

Carolina wasn’t able to recover from the big loss, having a record of 5-11 in the 2020 NFL season. They were able to win against the Houston Texans after McCaffery got hurt in the first quarter of the game, but the Texans quarterback, Tyrod Taylor, was also injured for the game. Also, the Texans are one of the worst teams in the league, with a record of 1-2. The Panthers are scheduled to play against the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, New York Giants, and Atlanta Falcons in their next five games. Out of those 5, they have a realistic chance of winning 3 of them – even without McCaffrey. If they were to go 3 for 5, that would put Carolina at a 5-2 record. After that, the schedule for them doesn’t look very promising. If the Panthers are able to scrape up a few wins, they might have a chance of making the playoffs in a weak conference.