The Carolina Panthers are without question one of the more intriguing teams in the NFC South following the third week of the 2015 NFL season. Cam Newton has led his team to a perfect 3-0 record on the season and there is no question that they are capable of continuing their success forward and becoming a tough playoff contender.
Following yesterday’s tough 27-22 victory over their division rival New Orleans Saints, the Panthers are still picking up steam as a contender. There were quite a few question marks surrounding them heading into the season and they still have a few even after the quick start.
Ron Rivera has to be very excited about his teams future looking ahead at the big picture this season. He is without question one of the most underrated head coaches in the NFL and has helped his team back to being considered NFC contenders. The Atlanta Falcons are 3-0 on the season as well, which will make their first matchup of the season very intriguing.
All of that being said, let’s take a look at the five biggest takeaways for the Panthers following their Week 3 win over the Saints.
1. Cam Newton Is a Legitimate Franchise Caliber Quarterback
After being given a massive contract extension this year, Cam Newton has to be feeling good about his performance early this season. He came through with another big game for the Panthers against New Orleans, throwing for 315 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions and completed 20 of his 31 passing attempts while also picking up 31 yards and a touchdown on the ground. Those are the type of numbers that the Panthers hoped to see from him this year and they haven’t been disappointed.
2. Greg Olsen Is a Very Capable No. 1 Target
Carolina suffered a major injury blow when second-year star wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn ACL. Greg Olsen was immediately pegged as a player that the Panthers needed to step up. He is doing so this season and proved that he is a capable No. 1 target for Cam Newton by catching eight passes for 134 yards and two touchdowns in the game.
3. Luke Kuechly Is a Massive Part of the Carolina Defense
Luke Kuechly also received a large contract extension this past offseason and is one of the top defensive players in the NFL. He missed this weeks game due to injury, but the Panthers’ defense looked lost without him on the field and gave up quite a few big plays against a Luke McCown led offense. Carolina needs him to get back on the field and there is no doubt that he will get right back to business in Week 4 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
4. Establishing the Ground Game Is a Must Each Week
Jonathan Stewart didn’t have a very good game in Week 3, picking up just 52 yards and no touchdowns on 14 carries. Newton was the biggest rusher of the day with 31 yards and a touchdown. Carolina’s offense needs as much help as it can get this season and Newton’s job would be much easier if they can establish their ground game more each week from this point forward.
5. Carolina Should Come Away with the NFC South Division Title
Atlanta is the only other team that could compete for the NFC South title this year, but they showed quite a few holes this week against the Dallas Cowboys. Carolina is going to take the NFC South assuming they are able to stay relatively healthy. This is going to be a very good season for the Panthers and they are not a team to be taken lightly.