Panthers likely out of NFC playoff picture with loss

Carolina Panthers

Mathematically the Panthers aren’t finished, but with the way this team is playing, it’s hard to imagine them coming back from this catastrophic collapse.

The 2018 Carolina Panthers are living and breathing proof that a tremendous start to a football season guarantees nothing.

Considered to be a playoff threat just a few weeks ago, the Panthers have now lost four straight games. This brutal skid has pretty much all but killed what was once a very hopeful season.

In a must-win game they needed to stay above .500, the Panthers failed to come through against the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers, falling 24-17 at Raymond James Stadium. A matchup with Tampa Bay seemed like the perfect opportunity for Carolina to snap its losing streak, seeing as how the Bucs have been unable to settle on one quarterback this season by jumping back and forth between Jameis Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick.

With the Buccaneers in such vulnerable shape, this is a game Carolina should’ve won to give itself a momentum swing. Instead, Tampa Bay roughed up quarterback Cam Newton and intercepted him four times.

Newton still completed 28 passes and threw for 300 yards, and running back Christian McCaffrey contributed 106 yards on the ground. But those interceptions were too much to overcome, especially when Winston played a pretty solid game going 20-for-30 for 249 yards and two touchdowns.

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At 6-6, the Panthers aren’t out of the race entirely, but it’s not looking good. In addition to needing help from other teams around the league to get into the playoffs, they would need to find a way to solve their own problems first and start winning games again.

They took a huge hit with what’s believed to be a season-ending foot injury to Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen. His absence isn’t going to do them any favors when trying to snap themselves out of their own funk.

It started out as a promising season for this Panthers team, but they’ve undergone an epic collapse, and it doesn’t look like they are coming back from it.

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