18. Carolina Panthers
Two consecutive wins over the Los Angeles Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals have suddenly made the Panthers decision to sign up Teddy Bridgewater seem like a brilliant move. Brilliant tactics, but questionable strategy. I’m not about to promote tanking, but the better these Panthers do this season, the worse position they will have in the 2021 NFL Draft.
The Carolina Panthers have lost to the Raiders and the Buccaneers but defeated the Chargers and the Cardinals. That’s better than expected of this team and places them on the better-than-last-year trajectory. Bridgewater is a fine passer in this offense, and the Panthers are doing a good job of splitting the running back load between Christian McCaffrey and Mike Davis.
Of course, they are an NFC team and play in the same division as the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. So a playoff berth is unlikely for this team. But there is a chance, and for the Panthers to cling to that hope, or improve their chances, this team must win games they are expected to lose. That means they must be able to defeat the Bucs, the Saints, and the Falcons.
With the Falcons in a tailspin, the Panthers could finish the season at .500. Is that enough of an improvement for optimism for the Panthers fanbase? After 5-11, it should be just what they need.