Breakout team of 2012, will be the Carolina Panthers, with their second year quarterback leading the way. The NFC South is one of the most wide-open division in the league and I believe the Panthers could make a great run for the title.
The Panthers had a solid year in 2011, and they will be trying to build on that success in 2012.
So where do they go from here? Newton had an outstanding rookie season, but can he repeat it? Or, even better, can he improve on what he did last year? Everyone hears of the sophomore slump, but there is one thing that isn’t brought up. Players often fall to the sophomore slump in the second year in the league. Cam will be the next one to avoid the fall of stardom and will continue is rise his way to the top. I fully expect him to be a pro-bowl caliber quarterback and don’t be surprised to see him in the top five for the MVP candidates.
The Panthers added veteran running back Mike Tolbert; he will bring some toughness to the running game. This team has a balanced offense, but is willing to stay with what is hot. If the running game is going great, why change to the passing game. When they do change to the passing game, watch out! They can pass the ball as well as some of the best teams in the league. For the first time in Panther history, players want to come to Carolina. Plaxico Burress, a free agent wide-receiver has made comments that he would love to join Cam Newton. The skies are the limits for this offense, and I expect another great year, and with New Orleans and all that turmoil, and Atlanta never really stepping up, the Panthers have a great chance to be the division leaders this fall.
The defense is the only concern, and that may end up being their Achilles heel this year. They are solid, but not outstanding. Some games the offense will struggle and it is important that the defense keeps them in games and force’s turnovers. I don’t know if you expect that on a consistence basis with this defense. I hope I am wrong, just imagine a solid defense with a great offense. That would be a recipe for a Super Bowl run.
There are a lot of mediocre teams that will take a run at the playoffs this year, but none of them will improve like the Panthers will.