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Will the Carolina Panthers Make the Playoffs?

Cam Newton Carolina Panthers

Fresh off a Super Bowl appearance, expectations were sky-high for the 2016 Carolina Panthers. Thanks to a 1-3 record out of the gate, it looks like the Panthers have lost their bite a month into the season.

Is it just a Super Bowl hangover, or have the Panthers jumped the shark? Ron Rivera’s club has only beaten the dreadful San Francisco 49ers so far, as they now sit tied with the Niners and the equally disappointing Arizona Cardinals in the basement of the NFC West.

Only four teams are allowing more points per game than Carolina’s 29.5, and their pass defense got torched in Week 4 by Atlanta Falcons wideout Julio Jones to the tune of 300 receiving yards – the fourth-highest single-game total in the history of the NFL.

Flashy quarterback Cam Newton has looked like a regular joe. The Auburn product is playing the worst football of his career, averaging 58 percent on completions, six touchdowns, five interceptions and a passer rating of 80.2, which ranks 24th in the league. To put that into perspective, even Cleveland’s Cody Kessler has a higher passer rating at 83.5.

With the Falcons looking like the best team in the division, sportsbooks aren’t expecting the Cats to make another postseason appearance. Bovada is giving the Panthers a +125 shot of reaching the playoffs, with the No option coming in at -165.

Newton suffered a concussion in Carolina’s setback to the Falcons, and his status is in question ahead of Monday’s tilt versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If the quarterback isn’t ready to go, the well-traveled and underwhelming Derek Anderson will get the nod under center.

Before their playoff run, the Panthers defense was prone to epic collapses and Newton was easily affected by teams with excellent pass rushers. Losing star cornerback Josh Norman in the offseason only made things worse, and Carolina’s decision to let him walk is looking worse every day. The signs of a slight regression were there, but no one expected it to be this bad.

A 1-3 record is not impossible to overcome. The Falcons started the 2015 campaign 5-0 before imploding and dropping eight of their remaining 11 contests. There’s a reason the season is 16 games.

But the Panthers aren’t looking like a contender right now, and Riverboat Ron’s ship could start to sink if they continue to drop games at this pace.

Will the 2016 Carolina Panthers make the playoffs?
  • YES +125
  • NO -165

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