Community Tailgate: Will Panthers Go 16-0?

As the NFL regular season nears its home stretch, there are plenty of topics and storylines to discuss, and PFR’s Community Tailgate is designed to address those stories. What’s the Community Tailgate all about? Well, it’s pretty simple. We’ll highlight one of the top stories going on in the NFL. Then, in the comment section below, we want you to weigh in and let us know what you think.

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Several weeks ago, when we surveyed PFR readers on whether the Patriots and Panthers could go undefeated, the general consensus was that New England had a better shot than Carolina at finishing 16-0. Since then, however, the Pats’ injury issues have caught up to them, and the club has lost consecutive games against the Broncos and Eagles.

The Panthers, on the other hand, continue to roll, surviving a Week 13 scare in New Orleans to sneak past the Saints and run their record to 12-0. With four weeks left in the season, the Panthers still have to play the Falcons, the Giants, the Falcons again, and the Bucs — Carolina should be favored in all four games, but each of those teams are fighting for a playoff spot in the NFC, so wins won’t come easy.

At the same time, the Panthers figure to face an interesting decision within the next couple weeks — do they go all-out in an effort to stay undefeated, or do they dial it back and rest some key players if and when they clinch a first-round bye and the NFC’s No. 1 seed?

Today’s discussion question is a two-parter, then. Will the Panthers run the table to finish with a 16-0 record? And should that even be a priority for the team? We’ve seen clubs in the past take the pedal off the gas with a week or two left in the season and have that decision backfire in the playoffs, when the long layoff for key players results in some rust in the divisional round. On the other hand, head coach Ron Rivera and his staff would likely get ripped by media and fans alike if Cam Newton were to go down with an injury in Week 16 or 17, after Carolina had already clinched home-field advantage.

So what do you think? Should the Panthers try to go 16-0 even if they’ve clinched a No. 1 seed with a couple weeks remaining? If they do go for it, will the Panthers be able to get by the Falcons, Giants, and Bucs to go undefeated? And either way, what sort of postseason outcome do you see for Carolina? Weigh in below with your thoughts!

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2 comments on “Community Tailgate: Will Panthers Go 16-0?

  1. Jason

    I think they have a good chance last game was their worst of the season as a team and they still won. Sure it was New Orleans but a road division game is never easy (unless you play in the nfc east) hardest test left I believe is at the Giants. Obj vs Norman is the best matchup to watch.

  2. Connor Byrne

    I do think the Panthers should go for 16-0 if they’re in position to do it. If they do lose, though, I believe it’ll be to one of the divisional opponents – probably the Falcons. The Giants don’t match up well with Carolina at all. Their defense is porous and they have a one-dimensional offense predicated on throwing the ball, and the Panthers’ pass D is usually death on opposing teams. On the other hand, the Falcons are toward the upper half of the league in both pass and run defense, so they could force the Panthers’ offense into an off day and keep it close enough to pull a low-scoring upset. The Panthers and Falcons play each other twice in the next three weeks, the second matchup being a second consecutive road game for the Panthers. That should be really difficult, even though the Falcons have been in free-fall mode for a while. But so were the Saints, and they came within a hair of beating the Panthers last week. Week 17, the Bucs could be playing for a wild-card spot. They have an excellent run defense (3.5 YPC against, tops in the NFL). If they take that dimension from the run-heavy Panthers, another close-fought, low-scoring upset becomes quite possible.

    If I were to bet on it, I’d take the field over Carolina these last four weeks. I think someone’s going to beat them. I just don’t know when it’ll be. This is the time of the season where strange outcomes happen (i.e. Philly going into New England and winning).

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