Through 5 weeks, we are still with a staggering six undefeated teams in pro football, three coming from each conference. Often times, you’ll see a team come out of the gate scorching hot. However, often times they can’t keep up that consistency and end up falling to a losing record with a terrible end to the season. Will that happen to one of these undefeated teams this year?
Which undefeated team is the biggest pretender? Definitely not the Patriots, they still have Tom Brady for one. Maybe the Packers? Not with Aaron Rodgers under center, plus their defense has stepped up. Perhaps the Bengals? I mean, they have lost 4 consecutive playoff games in as many seasons. However, Andy Dalton has proved early on this year that he is the real deal, they’re not losing with him as long as he stays hot. What about the Falcons? There’s no way they can keep up the steam, right? Matty Ice is among the best QBs in the league and Dan Quinn has rejuvenated that team. They are clearly the best team in the NFC South. It’s gotta be the Broncos, Peyton Manning is a shell of his former self. While that may be true, the Broncos defense has been the best in the league so far and has proven week in and week out that they are capable of carrying the team to victory.
Who else is left? That leaves the Carolina Panthers as the biggest pretender of the remaining undefeated teams. They have gotten off to a surprisingly hot start at 4-0–but are you really surprised? Look at who they have played so far. Carolina’s opponents so far have a combined record of 5-15, three of whom have only 1 win so far. Even without Kelvin Benjamin, they should be winning games like that.
Cam Newton is the face of the franchise, and he has played well, I won’t take that away from him. However, take a look at the rest of the offense. Missing Benjamin will prove to be a huge loss for the Panthers. Newton doesn’t have any receivers that he can rely on throughout a week-to-week basis, other than Greg Olsen. Not only that, the running game is subpar, aside from Newton’s running ability. Even at 4-0, the offense is still towards the bottom of the league with only 322 yards per game.
The defense has been pretty good as a whole, but look at who they have faced so far. An unproven Blake Bortles, the tandem of Brian Hoyer/Ryan Mallett in week 2, the rookie Jameis Winston in week 4; the only respectable QB being Drew Brees. Even then, they have allowed over 23 points in each of their past 3 games.
Overall, the Panthers are a pretty good team on paper. However, I think the 4-0 record is a misinterpretation of their actual ability. The defense is good, but they allow more points than they should. The offense is questionable due to lack of weapons, poor running game, and can you trust Cam Newton as your leader?
With a tough schedule ahead, the Panthers are bound to reveal their true colors. Are they a real contender? Or just a pretender benefitting from an easy schedule? With the Seahawks, Eagles, Colts and Packers up next on the schedule, we will learn a lot about the Panthers in the coming weeks. It all starts this week in Seattle.