All true NFL fans know what a “Super Bowl hangover” is. Teams that make it to the big game sometimes do not live up to certain expectations the following season, and often times miss the playoffs altogether. This is a situation the Carolina Panthers are all too familiar with, as the team posted a 7-9 record in 2004, following their 2003 Super Bowl run.
However, this has not been an issue for teams in the past few years. In fact, four of the past five Super Bowl winners prior to the 2015 season (New England, Seattle, Baltimore, and Green Bay) made the playoffs the following season. The only Super Bowl winning team not to make the postseason in that span is the New York Giants.
The Carolina Panthers Will Not Suffer a Super Bowl Hangover
As for teams that lost in the Super Bowl in the past four seasons prior to the 2015 season, three of the four teams (Seattle, Denver and New England) made it back to the playoffs the following season. The only team that did not was the San Francisco 49ers.
As one can see, the curse of the “Super Bowl hangover” no longer seems to be as prevalent in today’s NFL. The Panthers will continue that trend in the 2016 season, and this is why.
The team has prepared for life after Josh Norman
Yes, the loss of the breakout 2015 star hurts this defense going into their 2016 campaign. However, many are forgetting that Carolina’s defense is full of young guns and huge stars. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis lead the best linebacking corps in the NFL. Kawaan Short is set to get a long-term deal that will keep him and Kony Ealy together on the defensive line for years to come, along with Star Lotulelei and the returning veteran Charles Johnson. On the back side of the defense, Bené Benwikere has a shot at becoming the number one corner for the team and could lead this young group of corners that include James Bradberry, Daryl Worley and Zack Sanchez. Kurt Coleman and Tre Boston both looked poised for their own respective breakout years at the safety positions. All in all, this defense could still be top five when all is said and done.
The MVP has new weapons
After Cam Newton posted his ridiculous numbers from 2015, many praised the young quarterback for winning the Most Valuable Player award by throwing to guys such as Ted Ginn and Corey Brown (who might not even make some teams’ final 53-man rosters). Now, he will have back his best receiver, Kelvin Benjamin, and a new weapon in undrafted free agent Keyarris Garrett, who teammates and coaches are thrilled about bringing aboard. Devin Funchess found his stride around midseason, and he will be looking to continue his great play going into this season. The team has also brought in many new faces at wide receiver and tight end, looking at who can be Cam’s new weapon. Speaking of tight ends, how about Greg Olsen? The second best tight end in the league (only to Gronk) seems to age like a fine wine. He just gets better every year.
The Panthers are still the team to beat in the NFC South
In a division with the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons, it would be hard for the Panthers not to win their fourth straight division title. New Orleans is a complete dumpster fire outside of Drew Brees. The Bucs are still rebuilding, and now have to transition to playing under new head coach Dirk Koetter after Lovie Smith was surprisingly canned. The Falcons are not too bad, but still need to give Matt Ryan an offensive line and a threat outside of Julio Jones. Not to mention their defense still needs work. Carolina has a good chance of sweeping the division. The only loss many could see is at Atlanta. Playing in a weak division all but guarantees Carolina a three seed in the playoffs at worst.