Carolina Panthers latest divisional loss essentially ends their 2019 season.
The Carolina Panthers entered New Orleans with high hopes against the division leading Saints. After suffering their worst loss of the year to Atlanta a week prior, Carolina desperately needed a victory in order to remain relevant and in playoff contention.
Facing arguably the best NFC team on the road, Carolina found themselves in an early hole but battled to contend late. In fact, the Panthers had an opportunity to take the lead with two minutes remaining in the game but kicker Joey Slye missed his third kick of the afternoon leading to three consecutive losses.
A losing record with only five games remaining means that although Carolina may not technically be mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, their hopes are extremely slim. With games remaining against New Orleans, Atlanta, Indianapolis and Seattle – all teams who either previously defeated the Panthers or currently have a winning record, the likelihood of rebounding with enough victories to finish above .500 themselves is questionable.
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Despite the rash of injuries suffered up and down the Panthers roster, owner David Tepper may elect to make a coaching change. Ron Rivera has been on the sideline since 2011 but having inherited the current staff, it would be hard to argue with Tepper deciding to instill his own hire into a leadership role.
While unlikely that any decision would be made prior to the end of regular season play, Carolina can essentially begin to focus on long-term goals and the 2020 season after this loss. Moving forward, any significant changes would signal a new direction for the franchise.
Another loss makes for an uphill climb as the Panthers attempt to extend their playoff chances with a few more wins this season.