The Carolina Panthers were strong favorites to not only make the playoffs again in 2016, but also win their fourth consecutive NFC South division title this year. However after starting to year at a very disappointing 3-5, many are wondering what went wrong. That is a list that could take a while to discuss, but the Panthers have seemed to be able to get a lot of things corrected in the last two weeks in beating the Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams, accumulating 12 sacks along the way.
So do the Panthers still have hope of making the playoffs, despite being 3-5? Yes. It has been done before. Here's the teams that have done it.
1. The 1990 New Orleans Saints. Started 3-5, however finished the season at 8-8 to earn a wildcard spot.
2. The 1994 New England Patriots. From 3-5 to 10-6 with a seven game winning streak.
3. The 2002 New York Jets when from 3-5 to 9-7 thanks to a strong 6-2 finish to their final eight games.
4. The 2008 San Diego Chargers finished their season on a high note to get into the playoffs at 8-8.
5. The 2011 Denver Broncos also managed to have a better back end of their season, finished 8-8 and won a wildcard spot.
So yes, it can be done. While I see no way the Panthers can make the playoffs with an 8-8 record as two of the teams listed above did, I do think a 10-6 record would get the Panthers into the playoffs, and possibly even a 9-7 record given the way the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are playing right now. At 10-6, the Panthers have a chance to win the NFC South still, but it seems right now, the Panthers easiest path to the playoffs is a wildcard spot.