A Panther fan understandably is looking for a silver lining today, with Carolina having been blown out 37-19 and 38-10 in its last two games.
So here it is: The Panthers remain tied for first place in the NFC South, which in my opinion has become the worst division in the NFL.
The Panthers (2-2) allowed 38 points to Baltimore Sunday and get this -- that was tied for second-best among the NFC South's four teams! Atlanta (2-2) lost 41-28 to Minnesota, which was starting a rookie quarterback and didn't have Adrian Peterson. New Orleans got hammered 38-17 by Dallas -- the Saints trailed 24-0 at halftime and are now 1-3 and reeling. Only Tampa Bay (1-3) salvaged some respect for the NFC South, pulling off an unlikely upset in Pittsburgh. That was the Bucs' first win of the season, and despite that they are only a game out of first place in the NFC South.
Of the NFL's eight divisions, the NFC South is now the only one that doesn't boast a single team with a winning record after Week 4. This has the look already of one of those divisions that could be won with an 8-8 record, or at least 9-7.
The problem in a word: Defense. Atlanta coach Mike Smith said after the Vikings rolled up 351 yards by halftime Sunday: "They did basically whatever they wanted to in terms of controlling the line of scrimmage. That is very alarming."
Carolina coach Ron Rivera and New Orleans coach Sean Payton could say exactly the same thing. And Tampa's Lovie Smith, although he won Sunday, is less than two weeks removed by giving up 56 points to the Falcons.
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