November Struggles Hurt Panthers’ Playoff Chances

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    It wasn’t the ideal end of November for the Carolina Panthers after the team was given some optimism with the return of Cam Newton earlier in the month. Their playoff chances had quickly fallen flat, as the Panthers dropped their two winnable games in Washington & Miami after unexpectedly beating Arizona (10-2). As of now, the Panthers are sitting at 5-7, 10th in the NFC with every single team besides the Detroit Lions still in the playoffs race. The Lions did beat the 5-7 Vikings, so they are only ahead of Carolina because of their overtime loss to them. 6th place Washington (6-6), 8th place Philadelphia (6-7), have the head-to-head over Carolina as well as San Francisco in 7th at 6-6. Currently, Carolina is tied with the Falcons and Saints for 2nd place, but having a 2-0 division record has them technically in a position to at least keep 2nd place.

    CHARLOTTE, NC – NOVEMBER 21: Stephon Gilmore (9) corner back of Carolina during an NFL football game between the Washington Football Team and the Carolina Panthers on November 21, 2021, at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, N.C. (Photo by John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

    A win vs Miami or Washington could’ve set Carolina up nicely. They could’ve been (6-6) or possibly if they beat Washington (7-5) heading into a breather with the Atlanta Falcons up at home for week 14 and could be in 6th place. Instead, they suffered numerous setbacks in yet another painful loss as they fell into 10th after their bye week.

    The offense hit a snag with Newton and the defense is losing steam. It’s still raining flags and there’s still no consistent structure. Oh, and running back Christian McCaffrey came off in a walking boot following the loss.

    If there is any hope left, it’s hoping that the teams around the Panthers in this wildcard race continue to lose as they try to get it together.

    12th placed Carolina has to show up better prepared to play not just a quarter of football. This week they’ll take on their division rival Atlanta Falcons right behind them in the standings at 11th and can’t be overlooked at all. Have to get something on the right track, penalties are great to start with as Carolina is the most penalized team this season, so the Panthers had a crew of officials all week to help create more disciplined, consistent play on the field. The Panthers also hope to “create a spark,” as Matt Rhule would say, as they turn the offense over to someone with 10 years of NFL experience. Jeff Nixon, the former co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the Baylor Bears under Matt Rhule for three years. In 2020, Nixon joined the Carolina Panthers as the team’s running backs coach under Rhule. Nixon will become the interim offensive coordinator for the Panthers after Joe Brady was fired on December 5, 2021.

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