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Panthers to be More Competitive in the NFC South

The NFL’s NFC South was one of the least competitive divisions in football last season. The Atlanta Falcons easily won the division by six games, while the other three teams tied for second.

This season however, that could change as teams are becoming more competitive and have added new players to their fold. One such team is the Carolina Panthers.

Carolina has not enjoyed a winning season in 4 seasons, when they finished 12-4 in 2008.

However, they showed signs of turning things around in the second half of last season. The Panthers started the season a dismal 1-6, but finished 6-3, with four consecutive wins, to end the year at 7-9.

Cam Newton, the Panthers do it all quarterback is confident his team will have an excellent season. Last season Newton’s passing game improved and he ended the season with 3,869 yards through the air with 19 touchdowns, while only throwing 12 interceptions. Not only did his passing game improve, but also he led all Panthers’ rushers with 741 yards on the ground.

However, Newton cannot do everything for his team and no matter how talented he is, the team should not have their quarterback as their leading rusher.

The Panthers have two talented back in Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams. Stewart suffered through injuries most of the 2012 season and Williams rushed for only 737 yards.

It is uncertain if Stewart can start the season with the team and it is possible he will miss six games to start the season by going on the PUP list.

Defensively the Panthers know they most improve over last season, especially if they hope to stop the Falcons and New Orleans Saints in their own division. The Falcons with Matt Ryan and the Saints with Drew Brees have two high-powered offenses that can put points on the board.

Leading the defense this season for the Panthers will be Luke Kuechly their talented linebacker. During his rookie season a year ago, Kuechly led the NFL in tackles with 164.

On defense, the Panthers added Chase Blackburn at linebacker from the Giants, Drayton Florence at cornerback from the Lions and Mike Mitchell at safety from the Raiders.

Offensively, they added Ted Ginn at wide receiver from the 49ers and Domenik Hixon another wide receiver from the Giants.

The season will be tough for Panthers with the NFC South becoming more competitive. The pressure will be on Newton to perform even better than he has the first two seasons of his career. The running game will be key for the Panthers. If Williams can increase his yardage and Stewart can come off injury strong, then the Panthers offense could become tough to stop.

On defense, the linebackers will be one of the toughest in the league, but the defensive line could use another passer rusher.

The secondary has been strengthened by offseason acquisitions, but if the line cannot stop the run or put pressure on the quarterback, the secondary could have a very long season.

Third place behind Atlanta and New Orleans is where the Panthers will finish, with an 8-8 record.

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