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May 15, 2015

Panthers tabbed to finish last in division by SI

Carolina’s free agency and draft didn’t impress at least one expert.

Sports Illustrated NFL writer Don Banks predicts the Panthers will finish in last place in the NFC South after what he believes was a poor offseason.

Banks picks the Saints to be first, followed the Falcons and then the Buccaneers.

Here’s what he writes about the Panthers:

"Picking a team that went 7-8-1 to finish last in its division might not seem like such a big stretch, but it does raise a few eyebrows when that club also happens to be the two-time defending NFC South champion. Behold the enigma that is the Carolina Panthers. No matter how impressive their December rally was, I can’t get past how shoddy a team the Panthers were for most of last season. When you mix in their ho-hum free agency work (Ted Ginn, Michael Oher, and Jonathan Martin?) and a puzzling top of the draft (Shaq Thompson and trading up for Devin Funchess?), it's really hard to view Carolina as a playoff contender."

It’s fair to question how much the Panthers actually upgraded their offensive line, which was ravaged by injuries last season. And plenty have wondered if Carolina reached for Thompson and gave up too much for Funchess.

But it’s important to note that in free agency, what you keep is as important as what you gain or lose. Carolina kept its strengths strong by extending Greg Olsen, returning defensive tackles Colin Cole and Dwan Edwards and going younger at running back with Fozzy Whittaker and Cameron Artis-Payne. Plus, Carolina figures to have a healthy Cam Newton in 2015.

The Panthers seem to be the most consistent of all the NFC South teams as it stands now. They are coming off back-to-back division titles—the first team to ever do it in the NFC South—while New Orleans goes through a major overhaul, Atlanta is filling gaps with a new head coach and Tampa Bay will depend on a rookie quarterback to bring them five or six wins.

--Jonathan Jones

Posted by Observer Sports on May 15, 2015 at 10:48 AM | Permalink


7-9 won't be worst in the division and that's our basement barring major injuries.

Posted by: charlottean | May 15, 2015 11:07:00 AM

They were 7-8-1 last year aided greatly by a 4-2 record in a division that will be significantly more competitive. Take away the misery that was the Buccaneers last year, and they were only 5-8-1, with every one of those games started by "supercam." I'd hardly say 7-9 is the floor.

Posted by: Michael Procton | May 15, 2015 11:15:17 AM

Say what you want. Panthers keep on pounding the NFC South. The division will be much tougher in 2015.

Posted by: Jeff | May 15, 2015 12:06:31 PM

This guy is stupid. I guess i should be writing for SI.

The Panthers got hot at the end of the season because the SEVEN rookies they were starting improved, the O-line and WRs settled in, and Cam was healthy. They have everybody back this season and have improved the o-line and WRs.

They also have an EASIER schedule this year outside the NFC South. If the other three teams really have improved then perhaps they finish 8-8. Would 8-8 be last place in a division that had no team over 500 last year? I agree that the other three teams improved but i don't think all three passed the Panthers. Panthers are still the team to beat.

Posted by: Dom | May 15, 2015 12:58:57 PM


Posted by: chris | May 15, 2015 1:25:17 PM

To quote a famous head coach it is not about getting the best players either getting the right players for your organization.

Posted by: Eric Nolan | May 15, 2015 1:46:29 PM

Wow. Big surprise! A national sports writer picked the Panthers to suck. It's like this EVERY SINGLE YEAR. Last year, coming off a 12-4 season, we were still picked by most to either finish last or 3rd in the division. Who was picked first? You guessed it. The Saints! I'm so tired of everyone bowing down at the feet of Drew Brees and just assuming the Saints will win the division. The Saints have been overhauled and Drew no longer has his safety valve in Graham. Please explain to me how they got better! The Falcons have done very little toward improving their O-line and the Bucs are still a couple years away from contending. I guess we'll just make this one look like the idiot he is come this fall. Go Panthers! Keep pounding!

Posted by: Jason Huddle | May 15, 2015 2:02:07 PM

Exactly right something the Panthers never did in the past.

Posted by: Jeff | May 15, 2015 2:06:00 PM

This guy has no business writing for SI, even though everyone has a right to their own opinion! I feel the Panthers will murder their neighbors in their division this year.....Don Banks needs to br writing for someone else, the previous responses are right, I do not believe no one in the South got any better!

Posted by: Greg Shouse | May 15, 2015 2:21:33 PM

This guy is nuts. Could it be the Panthers ugly 2014 season, at least in part, been due to the fact that we had a brand new group of wide receivers and we lost some guy by the name of STEVE SMITH (aka Hall of Famer)? Plus we lost Greg Hardy, we had a pathetic O-line and lost Jordan Gross. We also had several injuries especially at RB.

This year's off season moves and draft allowed us to improve our O-line, WR's, Defense and Special teams. Our off season did lack luster, but was still somewhat effective.

All four NFC South teams will be better this year. Tampa only had 2 wins last year and will hope to win 7 games. To go from 1st to worst because the other teams improved so drastically is silly. As NFC South history goes we won't finish first, but then again the Panthers rewrote that last year. Panthers will battle for first place in NFC and may go 10-6.

He must be a Panther hater.

Posted by: brian | May 15, 2015 2:26:13 PM

If the special teams improve this Panther club will be SPECIAL!!!!!!

Posted by: Jeff | May 15, 2015 2:38:26 PM

I agree that the Panthers draft class was a head scratcher and I do not agree with Gettleman on much of anything. However, I do not see the Panthers in dead last in this division.

Posted by: Whitecomet77 | May 15, 2015 3:35:27 PM

Never seizes too amaze me every year national sports media has no clue what goes on here. No work is done to backup their idiot opinions. We are irrelevant and the easiest to do every year is to say we're gonna be bad. It really is laughable every year. They'll still be talking about LT three years from now. They are two years behind every year! Hilarious as it goes saint, Falcons etc. least irrelevant to most irrelevant.

Think back to what Keyshawn said in pregame show few years back. on Live TV dude realized we had changed offensive coordinator... Chud went to Cleveland.

Posted by: 10-4!! | May 15, 2015 4:06:01 PM

I thought Don Banks was dead. What is he? like100?

Posted by: Hayseed | May 15, 2015 4:24:56 PM

This must be the same clown who had the Panthers at 25 on his post draft PR. I'm not saying Superbowl or bust but this team will have underachieved if they don't make the playoffs, so to put us below Tampa...thats harsh.

People seem to dismiss the Panthers because of their bad start last year. I agree entirely with Brian above. They had a terrible start because of the lack of offseason continuity on offense(Smith Sr, Gross, Lafell) Cam had an all new WR core and a shortened training camp to get in sync. As well our defense had to adapt to no longer having an elite pass rush(Hardy)and actually having to be decent in coverage which almost nobody mentions even though the transition is mostly complete.

Every time I hear that Carolina is gonna take a step back after "losing" Greg Hardy...they already did week 2 last seasom and came out of it 7-8-1. So continueing to go down just doesn't seem reasonable even though the other division teams got better

Posted by: Andrew | May 15, 2015 5:41:50 PM

The panthers will rule the NFC South For The next 5 yrs Keep Pounding!!!!!!!

Posted by: Eric Glenn | May 15, 2015 7:07:13 PM

The panthers will rule the NFC South For The next 5 yrs Keep Pounding!!!!!!!

Posted by: Eric Glenn | May 15, 2015 7:07:13 PM

SI predicting we will finish last is just as golden as Kiper panning a draft. Panthers sweep the division!

Posted by: Epictetus | May 15, 2015 7:20:47 PM

Somebody PLEASE let SI know the Panthers has no idea how to spell last. I believe we will be first in the division and go to the playoffs. I have enough faith in the Panthers as to go as far as to say, Super Bowl bound. I never doubt the Panthers. We are as good as any team out there. At least we don't cheat our way to win a Division spot. So this year GO PANTHERS, GO.

Posted by: Brenda | May 15, 2015 8:23:00 PM

They always pick the Panthers to suck. What they miss is... Once the young guys in the secondary got healthy, the overall defense got back to being top-notch. Oher has had a bad couple of seasons, but he was playing on a bad toe. If you've seen his workouts lately, his footwork is awesome now. I think he returns to his all-pro form. Our recieving corps may not feature all the big names, but we have very capable guys who came in this off-season. No way Carolina doesn't compete for the Division Championship again this season. Our back-up QB is better than Winston.

Posted by: Blackout | May 15, 2015 9:21:38 PM

"Never seizes too amaze me."

It never ceases to amaze me how poorly some people spell.

Posted by: Tom | May 15, 2015 9:21:44 PM

I LOVE it when the Panthers are picked for last. No expectations, I said three months ago they should draft another linebacker. Strengths are strengths. Would have liked Shane Ray in the draft but Thompsons fine by me. Remember NO expectations, definitely fine by me :-)

Posted by: Wil | May 15, 2015 9:49:55 PM

*DE Shane Ray (last comment sounds like I said he was an OLB)

Posted by: Wil | May 15, 2015 9:58:20 PM

Placing Banks on ignore... doesn't know his foot from a hole in the ground...

Posted by: sirge | May 15, 2015 10:37:30 PM

Placing Banks on ignore... doesn't know his foot from a hole in the ground...

Posted by: sirge | May 15, 2015 10:37:32 PM

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