The 2017 NFL season is officially over, now see where the Carolina Panthers rank for next year…
Carolina Panthers fans got to see first hand the competitiveness of Super Bowl combatants Philadelphia and New England this season. The Panthers traveled to Foxboro and took down quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots before losing to Philadelphia, at home, just two weeks later.
While it was early in the season, all three displayed characteristics of playoff teams and each was eventually awarded a berth. Combined, they all went 37-11 during the regular season but the Panthers were eliminated in the wild-card round to divisional rival New Orleans.
Despite not ever recording back-to-back winning seasons in franchise history, many are expecting big things from the Panthers in the coming year. Knowing their veteran core is beginning to dissipate, with the recent retirement announcements of Thomas Davis and Ryan Kalil, the window of opportunity for Carolina is closing fast.
ESPN power rankings used their team to develop the projections for 2018 and there are both positives and negatives for the Panthers. Despite earning an overall ranking at No. 10 in the league, Carolina is far from the highest NFC South team represented.
"The Panthers’ decision to spend a first-round pick on Christian McCaffrey paid off. He led the team in scrimmage yards and receptions. The team might have to use another high pick on offense in 2018 after jettisoning Kelvin Benjamin to Buffalo. Devin Funchess was the only Panthers wide receiver with at least 500 receiving yards in 2017."
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While landing in the top-10 of the NFL is an impressive feat, knowing that two other divisional opponents currently rank higher is a bit degrading. The Panthers would need another winning season to fulfill their current power ranking but knowing the division is projected to again be extremely competitive is eye opening.
New Orleans, who won the division outright, is ranked No. 6 and Atlanta comes in at No. 7 on the list. Both were dangerous in 2017 and with expectations it will continue next year the Panthers need to begin preparations to compete in a highly contested division for a second straight year.
While it’s good the Panthers are ranked so high, knowing they are projected to finish third in a four team division is quite bothersome.