Team: Carolina Panthers
2017 Record: 11-5 (t-1st, NFC South)
2018 Record: 3-1 (2nd, NFC South)
Outlook: The 2017 Panthers were within hailing distance of their Super Bowl form of a few years ago . . . except against the New Orleans Saints. New Orleans beat the Panthers three times last season, including a 31-26 win in the playoffs.
Although the Panthers said goodbye to longtime running back Jonathan Stewart, the most significant changes this past offseason came within the coaching staff. Ron Rivera lost both of his top coordinators, with DC Steve Wilks moving on to become the head coach of the Cardinals, while OC Mike Shula is now running the Giants’ offense.
Personnel-wise, Carolina traded for Torrey Smith to help their receiving corps and picked up C.J. Anderson to support Christian McCaffrey, who has emerged as the clear top running back in the Panthers’ offense. Greg Olsen is still probably Cam Newton’s favorite target, and the standout tight end appears ready to return from injury against the Redskins after not seeing any action since Week One. Meanwhile, Newton is on-pace to have the second-highest passer rating of his career. He’s also 4-0 against the Skins in his career. All-Pro Luke Kuechly, corner Donte Jackson (3 INT), and end Mario Addison (3 sacks) lead a defense that finished seventh in yards allowed in 2017.
This year, Carolina has won three of four, including two wins against NFC East teams (Cowboys in the season opener and the Giants this past weekend). However, their defense has steadily surrendered more and more passing yardage each week, most recently being victimized by New York to the tune of 382 yards through the air.
How Worried Should We Be?: Terrified! Are you kidding? The Redskins played the part of hapless extras in an ESPN 30 for 30 on Drew Brees that aired Monday night instead of the previously scheduled football game. Seeing Washington act as virtual bystanders to what amounted to a coronation ceremony for Brees was disturbing. A team that couldn’t come close to stopping the Saints coming off a bye now has to figure out how to slow Newton and McCaffrey with less-than-normal prep time. Plus, Adrian Peterson is banged-up and new questions are swirling around Josh Norman, who got benched at halftime of the MNF debacle. Fun times! The only silver lining is that the rest of the division has also struggled, which means the Redskins are still in first place. If they can somehow get a win here, they’ll be back on track. But, after last Monday, the enormous burden of proof is on Washington to show it can compete against good teams.
How worried should the Redskins be about the Carolina Panthers?
This poll is closed
Not too worried