Photo credit: Grant Halverson / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
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The Carolina Panthers just beat the Minnesota Vikings and now Carolina is looking like one of the toughest teams in the entire NFC. There’s a reason why the Panthers have chalked up 9 wins in 2017 and it’s because they are so well rounded. Carolina boasts a top 5 ranking in three major categories (running attack, total defense, and run defense). It’s clear they play fundamental football and that’s why Ron Rivera has been able to constantly bounce back. The defense in particular has been a huge underlining factor in this team’s success. Luke Kuechly already has over 100 tackles for the year and this team has a boatload of pass rushers who can get after the quarterback. Julius Peppers and Mario Addison alone have combined for 19 total sacks which shows that this defensive front is nothing to play around with. Defensively this team could be a little better at taking the ball away as far as interceptions go but they still have enough pieces to make opposing offenses stall out. On the other side of the ball Cam Newton calls the shots however it’s been the running game that helped this team emerge as a true contender. The combination of Jonathan Stewart, Christian McCaffrey, and Newton have slashed their way into the upper echelon of the NFC. If opposing teams don’t find a way to shut those three guys down it can end up being a long day for their ball club. The Saints and Panthers are both tied record wise at 9-4 for the season and there’s no doubt the NFC South will be decided over the next three games. Don’t surprised if Carolina ends up dethroning New Orleans as the top team in the division. The Panthers are ready to make a splash and knocking off a rival would certainly be a big victory right before heading into the postseason. Nobody in AFC wants to play the Jaguars when the playoffs start, it’s the same thing for the Panthers in the NFC.
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