As I’m watching the Fox Sports channel and the New Orleans Saints playing the Houston Texans, the color announcer, Brian Billick, started in with his own personal “Power Rankings,” starting with the NFC South.
He had Atlanta 6th, New Orleans 14th, Tampa Bay 21st, and Carolina ranked 28th.
Billick is a former NFL Head Coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999-2007.
His “power rankings” reflect his thoughts as to how teams stack up.
With the Carolina Panthers being his 28th best team, just behind the Buffalo Bills, one has to wonder a little bit about the man’s sanity.
The Panthers finished strong last year and recovered somewhat from a disastrous first half to tie for second – with the entire rest of the NFC South – behind the Atlanta Falcons.
Carolina destroyed Atlanta once and were a Cam Newton fumble away from icing the other contest.
Since the end of last season, Carolina’s offense has remained pretty stagnant but the defense appears to be a much more solid all-around unit. They finished 10th in overall defense last season, if memory serves.
That’s not to say they won’t be facing some adversity, however. For their trouble, the Panthers will be gifted with the NFL’s toughest schedule for 2013.
With the way second-year pro and rising star MLB Luke Kuechly being so destructive during the preseason, I’ve been toying around with the idea of a good run for 2013 based on the strength of the front-seven. With multiple players in the secondary having interceptions, and Josh Norman’s multiple picks, I think this year’s defense looks every bit as strong as Seattle’s or Chicago’s and with a similar personality.
Certainly, there remains to be seen a stout run defense on a consistent basis from the Carolina Panthers, but they actually GOT stout vs. the run during their season’s second half of 2012.
When you add the draft-topping pair of defensive tackles as rookies, suddenly Monsterz, Inc. is likely to give opponent offenses enough problems as it is without even factoring in a guy like Luke Kuechly.
Offensively, the Panthers look to be about the same as last season, depending upon a receiver stepping up or not, but defenses are going to have to find a way to handle Cam Newton and his mobile 250-lb frame and rocket arm.
The acquisition of Ted Ginn, jr. during the offseason boosts an underproductive special teams unit as he returned a punt for a 74-yard TD in preseason already.
Although the schedule and injuries could derail the Carolina Panthers in 2013, I think with the way the team has played to close out last season and some of what the preseason has shown us thus far, there’s a quite hopeful spirit with the team that hasn’t seemed to be there in years past.
The defense really looks to be the strength of the Panthers and I can sure think of a lot more than 4 other teams that are in worse shape than the Panthers are at this point by FAR – Jacksonville, New York Jets, Oakland, San Diego, Arizona, Buffalo, Cleveland….
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