The NFC South is going to be a bloodbath in 2018, but here are five reasons why you should expect the Carolina Panthers to emerge as a playoff team again.
The Panthers, Saints and Falcons all are legitimate Super Bowl contenders in 2018. The challenge is they are all three trapped in the NFC South. It would still be foolish to bet against the Panthers returning to the playoffs this season.
Ron Rivera is still running the show in Carolina, but this team has undergone significant changes in the offseason. Mike Shula is out as the team’s offensive coordinator. In his place, Norv Turner has stepped in to try to help get the most out of Cam Newton and company. His effect on the team’s offensive efficiency will be a big key to the team’s success.
The defense is now being led by Eric Washington after Steve Wilks left for Arizona. Don’t expect a ton of scheme difference since Washington was on the staff last season. It should be more of the same for the Panthers on the defensive side of the football.
There are tons of reasons to like the Panthers’ chances to make the postseason this year. In this piece, we’ll look at the top five. The first topic is a major injury return for the Carolina offense.
5. Greg Olsen’s return
A fair of foot injuries cost the talented tight end to miss all but seven games last season. It was the only time in his professional career that he’s played less than 14 games in a season. To say that he’s generally durable is a serious understatement.
It would also be a serious understatement to say Newton missed him last season. The talented quarterback struggled to find a replacement for his safety blanket. Every offense in the NFL would miss a receiver who notched 80 catches and over 1,000 yards receiving last season.
Fortunately, Olsen looks ready to make a full recovery this year. He’s been a full participant in all of the team’s preseason activities. That should put him in a position to be a serious factor for the Panthers offense again this season. Another 1,000 yard season isn’t out of the question for the Pro Bowl tight end. That’s bad news for the rest of the NFC South.