If the NFL playoffs were to begin today, the Carolina Panthers would be the No. 5 seed in the NFC. At 6-3, they remain one of the top teams in the league.
But there are a number of questions facing the Panthers after a 52-21 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Steelers last week. Carolina entered the Week 10 primetime showdown on a three-game winning streak, but the Steelers quickly brought them back down to earth.
Here’s what Panthers veteran linebacker Thomas Davis told the Charlotte Observer when asked about the beatdown:
“I’ve never really seen a lot of games (like that). I’ve never really been a part of something like that. But like I said after the game, it’s a humbling experience. But if you’re a true competitor, you want to come in and you want to bounce back. And you want to do something about it.”
The question is, was the Steelers game a fluke or did it reveal that the Panthers have a long way to go before they can be considered among the NFL’s elite?
Quite simply, the blowout loss can either tear them apart or galvanize them. It can either start a losing streak or be a blip on the radar of a successful season.
The final chapter of the Panthers’ 2018 season has yet to be written. There’s still time to either write a happy ending or a sad one.
Moving forward, these are the Panthers’ three x-factors for securing a playoff berth in 2018.
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