Photo credit: Streeter Lecka / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
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The Carolina Panthers have been absolutely dominant after two weeks of NFL action surrendering only 196 yards to both opponents. When a defense is allowing under 100 yards a game they will get acknowledged quickly and clearly this is the backbone of Ron Rivera’s team. In the past Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin were known for turning heads but now Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, and Julius Peppers are making their mark down in Carolina. The Panthers have only given up 6 points all year so that tells you just how fantastic they’ve been and if they keep playing like this Carolina should be a playoff team. Maybe the most fundamental trait of successful football is playing outstanding defense and two recent Super Bowl Champions (Broncos and Seahawks) proved that’s still the winning formula. Carolina isn’t necessarily emulating what those teams did instead they get it done with their own style of play. That’s mainly made up of outstanding linebacker play and a good presence upfront. Obviously when you’re talking about the Panthers defense you have to start with the veteran Linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis has been outstanding so far leading the team in tackles with 14. Thomas Davis has also added 1 sack too so he is getting it done as a run stopper and a pass rusher. Luke Kuechly is the other stand out at the linebacker position. Kuechly has contributed 12 tackles and is always a force in the middle of the field defensively for Carolina. Julius Peppers leads the team in sacks with 2.5 on the year. The addition of Peppers has disrupted opposing quarterbacks and it gives the Panthers another gear on the defensive line. That acquisition alone has put Carolina in the elite category and Peppers is a big reason this team is ranked number 1 in the league defensively. Carolina has gotten a boost from Mario Addison and Wes Horton too, each guy has a sack this season and will be counted on to make significant contributions throughout the season. Together all of these players have gelled well and helped this franchise achieve a very impressive start in 2017. If Carolina can maintain this padlock style of defense the Panthers are going to challenge the Falcons in the NFC South. Remember defense wins championships.
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