By Eric Ronnebeck
One of my preseason football rituals consists of going through the Seahawks schedule for that year and marking down the probable wins and possible losses that I see for the Hawks that year. Predicting the outcome of an NFL teams schedule can be maddening. Assuming that the team you’re forecasting for is a playoff team, you can find those “probable wins” and “possible losses” pretty easily. Variably, there are always games that your team loses that they probably should have won and vice versa. This leads me to this weeks featured team for this column. In the preseason, I have no doubt that the fans of this team had them returning to the Super Bowl with a minimal amount of regular season losses. However, after nine games played it seems that the Carolina Panthers season is over.
Carolina Panthers: (3-6)
In 2015 the Carolina Panthers went 15-1, their only loss coming from the Atlanta Falcons in Week 16. They would go on to lose 24-10 to the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 but it was widely believed that the Panthers were now a Super Bowl caliber team. At 3-6, it’s still possible for the Panthers make the playoffs this season, but is it likely? Their 3 wins this season have come against the 49ers at home, the Cardinals at home, and the Rams on the road. The Rams and 49ers are bad teams and the Cardinals, to say it politely, are struggling. My point being that the Panthers’ victories haven’t come over good teams. Looking at their schedule, their remaining 7 games have them playing the Saints twice, the first place Raiders, the first place Seahawks, the first place Falcons, as well as the Chargers, Redskins, and Buccaneers. If the Panthers are going to make the playoffs, they will have to win at least six of their last seven games. That would put them at 9-7 and possibly winning their division. If it takes 10 wins to clinch the NFC South (or if they’re looking to earn a wild card spot) the Panthers will have to win out. The Carolina Panthers running the table to finish 10-6 is damn near impossible. Last season, I thought that the Panthers were winning their games with smoke and mirrors; I couldn’t understand how they kept winning. This year, the curtain has been pulled away and the Panthers have no more tricks up their sleeve.
This column is getting more and more difficult to write every week. The parity in the league is insane this year! It’s possible that more than one team will make the playoffs from the NFC East this year, the NFC South’s winner has not yet been crowned, and the NFC North is up for grabs as long as you’re not the Bears. What makes writing this column tough is great for football.