Could the Carolina Panthers become legitimate playoff contenders in 2023? There are reasons to suggest they can reach this lofty goal.
After narrowly missing out on the postseason in 2022 and one of the most memorable offseasons in recent memory, there is fresh hope surrounding the Carolina Panthers. A notion that looked inconceivable this time last year when a lame-duck coach was running the organization into the ground.
Fast forward 12 months and anything is possible. The Panthers have completely shifted the culture in terms of infrastructure and recruitment since the previous campaign concluded, which has many analysts projecting them to be one of the NFL's dark horses next season as a result.
Frank Reich is keen to keep expectations to a minimum given the wholesale and necessary changes implemented. But after so long in the football wilderness, fans are well within their right to dream big.
With this in mind, here are three reasons why the Panthers can emerge into legitimate contention during the 2023 season.
Reason No. 1
Carolina Panthers reside in the NFC South
Perhaps the biggest confidence boost for the Carolina Panthers is their presence within the NFC South. The division is somewhat in flux after Tom Brady's official retirement, although every team will fancy themselves as potential winners looking at how things stand currently.
Carolina's aggressive approach this offseason is a direct result of opportunity-knocking. They feel like the NFC South is there for the taking, which could be the platform needed to make some noise in the playoffs if everything goes according to plan.
It won't be easy, not by any stretch. But with Brady no longer controlling the division with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Panthers have absolutely nothing to fear.