Not much was expected of the Carolina Panthers this season. Considering that their NFC South rivals in the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all had the better quarterbacks, the 2020-21 season figured to be an uphill battle. Would the signing of Teddy Bridgewater make any difference at all?

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Carolina Panthers Come to Play

It took just their first game against the Las Vegas Raiders for people to realize that the Panthers’ defense was not that good as they allowed 34 points.  The next week wouldn’t get any better as Tom Brady and Tampa came to town.  Teddy Bridgewater had more passing yards than Brady, but he also had more picks and no touchdowns.  Carolina also lost its best player in Christian McCaffrey during this game as well.  Then the Panthers suddenly began to show major life. A three-game winning streak from Weeks 3-5 included wins over the Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals, and Atlanta Falcons.  

Tide Turns for the Worst on Panthers Season

At 3-2, the Carolina Panthers were one of the NFL’s most pleasant early-season surprises. That all changed pretty quickly in the ensuing weeks. Losses to the Chicago Bears, New Orleans Saints, and a Thursday night game at home to the Falcons did a lot to quiet the playoff chants.  The return of Christian McCaffrey served to provide some hope. They should have a chance right? Who do they play again? Oh, that’s right, the Kansas City Chiefs.

In all honesty, the Panthers played Kansas City far closer than most people expected. Carolina held a lead for the early part of the game, but then Patrick Mahomes took over and led the Chiefs to victory.  McCaffrey also would get injured again in this game and would not play at all for the rest of the season. Backup running back Mike Davis played well in relief this season, but he’s no Christian McCaffrey.  He also couldn’t stop the Buccaneers from bludgeoning Carolina the following week, 46-23.

Panthers Snap Five-Game Losing Skid but Fail to Build Momentum 

After the beatdown against the Bucs, the Carolina Panthers shut out the Lions to put their record at 4-7.  The trek up north to play the Minnesota Vikings the following week was looking promising as Jeremy Chinn gave provided two touchdowns from his safety position on defense. Carolina had a 27-21 lead with 1:51 to go.  Unfortunately, a very young Panthers defense allowed Kirk Cousins and the Vikings’ offense to go 75 yards in a little over a minute.  The Panthers had to settle for a tough one-point loss heading into their bye week.

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The Final Weeks of the Carolina Panthers’ Season

The Week 13 bye honestly may have been bad for Carolina. No team should really have their off week come that late in the season.  Coming out of the bye, the Panthers took losses to the Denver Broncos and Green Bay Packers dropping them to 4-10. The losses officially eliminated them from playoff contention. 

Week 16 was a game they had circled as they would play their former head coach in Ron Rivera.  Rivera and the Washington No Names could have clinched the NFC East with a win against the Panthers.  The Panthers would not let that happen as they flustered Dwayne Haskins into three turnovers on their way to a 20-13 revenge game win. 

The Carolina Panthers would end their season by getting dominated by the New Orleans Saints in a 33-7 rout. They would end up with a 5-11 record and the eighth pick in the upcoming draft. While it wasn’t a season full of wins, there were plenty of positives to come away with in what was Matt Rhule’s first season at the helm. The future appears to be bright in Charlotte.


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