The NFC South has always been a division where wild things happen. The worst to first scenario plays out there on a regular basis and saying you are the champ never seems to last for much more than one or two seasons. The Carolina Panthers certainly would seem to be in line for their turn, having not been in the conversation for the last couple of years. With the mighty New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons still loaded with talent, the Panthers certainly have their work cut out for them. The defense will have to improve dramatically for the Panthers to legitimately have a shot to win the NFC South. They were one of the league's worst in 2011 but have made significant strides towards improving in 2012. With the magic that is Cam Newton, even a small improvement on defense could mean a much better record. Here are three good reasons why the Carolina Panthers could win the NFC South:
Mike Tolbert coming on board is huge
Tolbert is going to provide the Panthers with several important things. He is a phenomenal goal line back that can also catch the ball around the goal line. This is going to take a good bit of pressure off of Cam Newton when they get inside the red zone. In 2011, Cam would take those situations on his own shoulders and shove the ball in the end zone. While that was exciting and effective, it is not a good blueprint for any NFL quarterback to last very long. Tolbert should ease that problem a great deal. Tolbert also will upgrade the Panthers running game by adding another threat to the field and blocking for DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart. He is an upgrade across the board.
Rob Chudzinksi has some new toys
We got to see what can happen when this guy gets talent to work with in 2011. He took the Panthers offense and turned into a slick running machine that even the best NFL defenses had trouble stopping. Cam Newton was certainly the engine of that offense, but Chudzinski was the designer and inventor. Now that he has even more parts to work with, plus more time to implement has crazy schemes, the Panthers could end up even better in 2012 on offense. That has to scare the daylights out of defensive coordinators around the NFC.
Cam Newton is no longer completely green
For all his accolades and accomplishments in 2011, Cam Newton is still a very young quarterback that has much to learn. It is easy to get caught up in the numbers and start to imagine crazy possibilities. One thing that is not crazy or unheard of is to expect similar results in 2012 from this young superstar and possibly more. Cam Newton is a year smarter with a whole season of ups and downs to his credit. That experience mixed with some serious success will have him coming in as the unquestioned leader of this team.
The statistics are going to likely come down to earth a bit because Cam Newton and the Panthers will probably not be behind as often as they were in 2012. Also, Tolbert is going to reduce the number of times Cam has to stick the ball in the end zone himself. Ultimately, the win total is the one that needs to rise and Cam is clearly on board for that.
Though the odds are not in their favor to win the NFC South in 2012, I would not be shocked in the least to see it happen. The Carolina Panthers are an up and coming team and Cam Newton has no ceiling in this league. Mixing those two things just right in 2012 could produce an NFC South title.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
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