Carolina Panthers: Christian McCaffrey on the brink of history

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers. (Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images) /

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey has history making opportunity in Week 17.

The Carolina Panthers second-half collapse is in full swing. After losing quarterback Cam Newton for the season after just two games, backup Kyle Allen provided a brief glimmer of hope. The Panthers rallied to 5-3 halfway through 2019 but haven’t won a game since that point.

Seven straight losses ensued and only one game remains before the focus shifts to finding a new coach and expected roster overhaul during the offseason. New owner David Tepper initially elected to retain Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney for stability purposes but after back-to-back losing seasons the coach who leads Carolina in franchise victories was dismissed.

Despite the struggles on offense, defense and special teams – one player has continued to fight and prove his worth week in and week out. Running back Christian McCaffrey would undoubtedly be in the MVP race following more team success and if the trophy were awarded to an individual who truly means the most to his team, McCaffrey would be a unanimous selection.

Through 15 games, McCaffrey has averaged nearly five yards per carry, totaling 1,361 on the ground. He’s also caught 109 passes for another 933 yards while adding 18 total touchdowns. This week he has the chance to join elite company in the record books with another dominate performance.

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Sixty-seven receiving yards would make McCaffrey one of just three individuals to accumulate 1,000 yards receiving and rushing in a single season. If he does, he’ll join Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig as the only other 1,000-1,000 club members.

In addition, should McCaffrey eclipse 175 total yards on Sunday he would become the only player to ever record seven such games in a year. Currently tied with Jim Brown and O.J. Simpson, McCaffrey was just two yards shy (54 rushing, 119 receiving) last week in Indianapolis.

Given New Orleans is still competing for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, expectations are their starters will play for much of the first half. Depending on the situation at that time, both the Saints and Panthers may elect to rest some key figures.

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If so, it will limit McCaffrey’s chances but either way he’s already proven to be an impact player and one the offense can be built around no matter who Tepper hires to coach this offseason.