Cam Newton and his Carolina Panthers are itching for a playoff run — Will it happen?
Enigmas can be electrifying. Flashes of brilliance, glimpses of greatness, all of it gone in a flash, it seems. Fleeting consistency and frustrating inconsistencies. Jumbled pedantry, maybe, or maybe it’s just a really snobby way of describing Cam Newton.
Cam has not only been one of the game’s most polarizing figures, but he has been the ultimate X-factor in a league where the guy throwing dimes and running the huddle decides wins and losses. While Cam has been to a Super Bowl only a few years ago and has led the Panthers to three recent NFC South titles in the past five seasons, the question remains: Can the Panthers get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2015, a season where they finished 15-1?
Why They Will
For those who are the glass-half-full type, or maybe, maybe you’re just a degenerate gambler with a Carolina Panthers futures ticket, here’s why they will.
It’s Like Fast Food. The NFC South is kinda like fast food: it’s always open. While the New Orleans Saints are favored to repeat as NFC South champions, the division is one of the more competitive in the league. In the past eight seasons, the NFC South has had repeat winners a maximum of three consecutive times, with the Panthers and Saints both going on three-in-a-row championship runs.
While the Saints could very easily lock down another winning year, it’s also very possible that the Panthers could go on an impressive run. Any team in this division can go on a run, and there’s no reason why a healthy Cam can’t run the show and dominate the competition.
Cam is Healthy. Now, keep in mind, the NFL injury report rumor mill is about as reliable as a checkout-line tabloid mag. Technically, Cam Newton is not on the injury report, and while he’s absent, he has been banged up recently. Between a nagging shoulder injury that reduced him to less-than-stellar form in 2018 and a recent foot injury in the preseason, there are a lot of question marks on his health.
Despite this, the recent chatter regarding his health is that he’s a lot healthier than he was last season. Head coach Ron Rivera even chimed in, concurring with the yea-sayers that Cam’s arm action looks smooth and he’s throwing well. If this is reliable and not just bluffing on the part of the Panthers, then the NFC South should be worried.
A healthy Cam is a legitimate MVP candidate, and while that may sound like hyperbole, Cam has been a proven and potent offensive weapon in past seasons.
Why They Won’t
The Numbers Say So. While we’re technically just concerned about “playoff form,” “Super Bowl form” might be a little unfair, but still, we’re going to look at it. Presently, the Panthers are 50-1 to win the Super Bowl, alongside the likes of the Houston Texans and New York Jets, two teams that are certainly going to be out of the playoff picture if they continue to prove who they always have been in the eyes of fans and their competitors.
The Panthers, while they had their shots a few years ago, are no longer the potent force they once were, so the number-crunchers are pretty much on the money as far as pricing them at 50-1.
Injuries and Hyper-Competitiveness. While the NFC South is highly competitive, the Panthers’ inability to protect Cam, and his penchant for getting hurt will come back to bite them yet again. The Saints are too good, and Cam is too fragile — sorry, it’s true. It’s not a matter if he will get hurt, but rather when he will get hurt.
Panthers fan or Panthers bettor, ultimately, we won’t find out whether they can do the improbable until it’s time for kickoff come this upcoming Sunday and beyond.