The Carolina Panthers started off the season 6-2 and looked like one of the best teams in the NFC. Now, they sit at 6-7 and are on a downhill spiral losing their last five games straight. Nonetheless, even though they look like a completely different team in the second-half of the season they still will have a shot to sneak a playoff berth. Although it will take some help from other teams, Carolina can still turn their season around if they finish off the 2018 NFL season strong.
Let’s take a look at how the Panthers will fair in their last three games of the regular season:
Week 15 vs. the New Orleans Saints at home
Carolina heads back home in front of their home crowd in Bank of America stadium after losing two-straight on the road and five-straight overall. Knowing that the Saints beat them all three times last season, the Panthers should come out for blood. The Saints (11-2) will look to give Carolina its sixth-straight loss as well as it four-straight loss to New Orleans dating back to last season. Except, this time it won’t happen. Carolina will take a play out of the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Saints last week. Kawann Short has been upgraded from doubtful to questionable for Monday Night which means there’s a good chance he might play. If so, Carolina will be able to dial-up the pressure up the middle. In doing so, they will make Saints quarterback Drew Bree’s uncomfortable and make their offense stagnant. Additionally, running back Christian McCaffrey will continue his second-half of the season wonders as he’ll run for over one hundred yards and two touchdowns. That would put McCaffrey over 1,000 yards rushing for the season who already ranks sixth in the NFL with 926 rushing yards (5.2 ypc) and seven touchdowns. Carolina Quarterback Cam Newton will look like his former MVP-self and throw for over 250 yards and two scores. This time Newton will finally get rid of the broom the Saints sent him in his locker room as Carolina wins in a close one, 31-21.
Week 16 vs. the Atlanta Falcons at home
After an emotional victory against the Saints, Carolina will beat up on a defeated Falcons squad. Atlanta has lost five of its last six games with their only win coming this Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals, who are arguably the worst team in the NFL. Additionally, the Falcons have already been eliminated from playoff contention which means they have nothing to play for besides pride. The Panthers speedy receivers of D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel will torch Atlanta’s secondary who are giving up 27.2 points per game. Carolina will roll past the Falcons, 28-13, putting themselves in position for a possible playoff berth headed into Week 17 against the Saints on the road.
Week 17 vs. the New Orlean Saints on the road
This is where things get interesting. This game can go one of two ways depending on whether or not the Saints have already clinched the No. 1 seed or a bye as the No. 2 seed.
If the Saints play all of their starters, then I don’t see Carolina coming into Mercedes-Benz stadium and getting the win. The Saints offense is too lethal at home. This season the Saints rank seventh in total offense averaging 389 yards a game. Not to mention they are second in points per game as they are averaging a staggering 34.4 points this season. Drew Brees will continue his MVP-type season and put up another 30-piece on Carolina and eliminate the Panthers from playoff contention. The Saints playmakers of Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara, and Mark Ingram will prove to be too much for Carolina’s defense as they will lose, 34-17.
On the other hand, if the Saints do decide to rest their starters then I do believe Carolina will pull off the victory, 24-10 and possibly make the playoffs depending how the Vikings, Eagles, and Redskins finish their respective seasons.