Sitting at 2-5 headed into a key road game in Los Angeles, most NFL Media experts and analyst have written off the Carolina Panthers or 2016 and think they have completely collapsed and will not be a threat of even sniff the playoffs. First off those same people said the exact same thing about the 2015 Kansas City Chiefs, who, like the Panthers started at 1-5, then went on to win their final 10 games and get into the playoffs on a Wild Card spot.
While I'm not sure the Panthers will win their final 9 games of the season (two very tough west coast trips to Seattle and Oakland loom ahead), I do believe the Panthers have what they need to make a run and, even though in last place in the NFC South at the moment (Atlanta Falcons are in first at 6-3) have what they need to come back and win the division.
Yes, the Falcons have been playing very well to start 2016, but let's remember the Falcons also did the exact same thing in 2015 when they started 5-0, only to go on and collapse and finished the season 8-8. The Falcons have had a history of starting out strong, not just last year, and fading quickly as the season gets into November and December.
The Panthers on the other hand (with the exception of 2015 when the Panthers didn't lose until Week 16, the Panthers have generally been a slow starting team and becomes dominant in November and December. Especially in December when the games are most important, the Panthers are 17-4 since 2011, the beginning of the Ron Rivera and Cam Newton Era. In November the Panthers are 11-7. So since 2011 the Panthers are 29-11 in the final two months of the season. And if you count final regular season games that were played in January, the Panthers are 31-11 (.820) over the final half of the season. What does that mean for this year? Despite the 1-5 start, and being 3-5, don't count out the Panthers and their history in November and December's games just yet.
The only true threat in the NFC South this year would be the Falcons. I just don't see Tampa Bay or New Orleans finishing anything above 8-8 this season.
And honestly, I just see the Falcons repeating what they have become known for, falling off down the stretch and coming back down to earth as the mediocre team that they are.
So basically, I am NOT saying it will happen this year, but the Panthers have shown this pattern before and don't be surprised when they show it again coming out of their bye week with 10 games still to play. Again, I'm not saying the Panthers are going to get hot and win their final 10 games as the Chiefs did last year, but I am saying the Panthers are in the right division to recover from this 3-5 start and make the playoffs for a fourth straight season. The Panthers simply know how to win when it counts the most, November, December and January.