NFL power rankings, Week 15: Broncos retake top spot - SBNation.com
6. Carolina Panthers Current Playoff Projection: NFC #5 seed (wild card) Cam Newton is famous for his Clark Kent touchdown bit, but he was no match for the Superdome Supermen as the Saints continued to look unbeatable at home. Newton was constantly under siege with nowhere to go with the ball, and the Panthers' defense looked like it was Day One of the training camp zone install as Marques Colston found open spaces with ridiculous ease. Carolina can shake it off after a tremendous 8-game stretch, but even a victory in the rematch may not be enough to keep them off the road in the playoffs given the Saint's conference tiebreaker edge. (Last week: 3)
I have commented several times on the blog I felt like I was watching our preseason defense out there with the soft zones and vanilla pass rush. I have a hard time believing the theory the Panthers played it conservatively on purpose because it's hard to win in NO anyway and its hard to beat a team three times in a season (provided we even play them a 3rd time). Why not try and win out and get a bye and home field? Exactly, I'm not buying that theory though it did really feel that way.
The good news is if they win out and finish 12-4 and worst case scenario the #5 seed is theirs. They control their own destiny. So its important to put this loss behind us and focus on beating the Jets.