Prior to the start of the season the Panthers were determined to have the hardest Strength of Schedule in the NFL. Now that we've played the first seven weeks of the season it would appear the schedule is not quite as hard as we thought it would be. Through 7 games the Panthers opponents are 22-18, a 55% winning percentage but it only gets easier from here. The Panthers 9 remaining opponents have a 30-31 record (49%).
Part of the decline in strength is due to the slow start by the NFC South. Both the Falcons & Bucs stand at 4-3, a win total short of expectations for sure. The 5-2 Saints are the only over achiever in the bunch.
The Panthers also benefit from several teams that have taken nose dives in 2011: Vikings (1-5), Colts (0-6) & Titans (3-3). That leaves the Panthers toughest remaining games outside the NFC South against the Lions (5-2) and Texans (4-3). After starting the season 5-0 the Lions have lost two in a row and thew Texans are without All Pro WR Andre Johnson. So it would appear the Panthers have a good shot in both of those games.
Actually I feel pretty confident the Panthers have a shot in every one of their remaining games. Starting the season 1-5 the Panthers dug a deep whole in a season on low expectations. After Sunday's win, as I look at the remaining schedule I see a chance for the Panthers to win 5 more games and here's how:
- Win just two of four games remaining in the NFC South
- Win two of three against the Vikings, Colts & Titans
- Win one of two against the Lions or Texans
That suddenly sounds very doable in my view. The key is to keep it going with a win over the Vikings which might be the toughest of the three non-NFC South losing teams. What do you guys think?