It’s not likely given the way Carolina has played over the last three weeks. Today, Carolina fell to 1-5, just as the Chiefs did a year ago. After winning this season opener, the Chiefs dashed any hopes that had formed prior to the season when dropped five straight. Poor play, poor execution, harmful penalties, and hurtful injuries led to the losses stacking up, much like Carolina this season. Despite losing Jamaal Charles for the season, the Chiefs put together an impressive 11-game win streak and made the playoffs. It was more than impressive, it was odds defying.
After their fifth straight loss, the Chiefs fell to a zero percent probability of making the playoffs.
They were 1-5, but they not bad, at least the Chiefs didn’t think so. “When I’ve been through, a team that was 1-5 or a team that wasn’t in the winning column in the middle of the season, that team was supposed to be like that, kind of,” said linebacker Derrick Johnson. “(But) this is one of the best rosters I’ve (been a part of). And that’s the crazy thing about the NFL ... we’re scratching our heads like everybody else now,” stated a bewildered Johnson.
Carolina wasn’t supposed to be one of those 1-5 teams Johnson described, however. They were to build their 2015 success that ended just short of a Super Bowl Victory. Favored to win the division and Super Bowl contenders, Carolina's start is more than head-scratching.. It's infuriating and has left fans questioning management, coaching, and the team's talent. The thought of being the next 2015 Chiefs is in Jim Mora territory. As Cam Newton stated, Carolina is just trying to “find ways to win a football game.”
What Carolina does have incommon with last year’s Chiefs wouldn't calm Mora the slightest ether. In the two games where the Chiefs' defense surrendered over 30 points, they allowed an average of 324 yards in the air. Similarly, Carolina's pass defense has been bad in games where they’ve allowed 30+ points, but it's even worse. Carolina’s defense has allowed 40+ points twice, in which, teams have averaged 484 yards passing.
If there is a resemblance to last year's Chiefs, it's that their losses were close ones. KC lost by an average of 7.8 points in their 5-game losing streak last season. The Panthers have lost by an average of 6.8 points. Carolina has made all but two of their losses close ones, losing to Denver, Tampa Bay, and New Orleans by just three points.
Cam Newton was clearly upset in his post-game press conference after today’s loss. It was a moment many are likening to Cam’s infamous Super Bowl post-game presser, where he sulked and walked out. He’s a guy who has struggled with losing, and today was no different. What, however, is different is the outlook for Carolina's chances going forward. The Panthers are unrecognizable from last year's NFC Champions and the team many believed was an emerging NFL powerhouse. Instead, they're are a team has one returning starter in the secondary. They are a team who has trouble getting off the field on third down. They are a team who can’t generate pressure on the quarterback. They are a team that is having trouble finding a way to win. They are a team who has lost all swagger.
Like the Chiefs of last year, Carolina is reeling after their fifth straight loss. The Chiefs, however, busted the model when making the playoffs after such a horrid start. We can only hope the similarities between the two don’t end with the losing. Let's hope that the 2015 Chiefs are the model.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
Follow him on Twitter @Cat_Chronicles