The Carolina Panthers are the only undefeated team left in the NFL, but their minds, according to the players, aren’t busy thinking about completing the perfect regular season. They’re taking it one game at a time.
At 11-0, considering their remaining schedule, and how well they’ve been playing, it’s more than reasonable to think they’ll go 16-0, unless Ron Rivera starts resting players with the playoffs in mind, which is also more than reasonable.
There’s only one team that has gone 16-0 before, and that’s the New England Patriots in 2007. We all know how that ended. They didn’t lose to the New York Giants because they got caught up in perfection. They didn’t lose because of mental fatigue or something like that. They were simply outplayed that day, plain and simple. And the Panthers think that focusing on games on a weekly basis is the recipe for success. No one is saying the word Super Bowl champions, but why shouldn’t they think that?
We have a chance to extend our season and record to 12 games. That’s important for us. And that’s the only thing that’s really on my mind, and I think I speak for the masses when I say we’re not necessarily trying to get lured in by what others may think. We’re always reminded by what coach says, and that’s to become 12-0 first.
The Panthers have four divisional games left – at New Orleans, home & away with the Falcons and closing the season at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They also have a road game with the New York Giants in the middle of all of that, probably their most difficult outing remaining. In the Cam Newton era, they have two playoff appearances and just one win. It’ll be their second winning season since 2008. They haven’t been to a conference championship game since 2005, a Super Bowl since 2003. Those are the main things that this journey is about. Undefeated? Perfection? That’s nice for the record books, but not things you remember if you lose in the playoffs.