The Carolina Panthers beat the New England Patriots 24-20 on Monday Night Football. From watching the game I couldn't help but think of the similarities between the 2012 Seattle Seahawks and the 2013 Carolina Panthers. This might be due to the similar media exposure and overall narrative but the Carolina Panthers boast a physical and hard-hitting defense that gives up next to nothing, an explosive and scrambling QB, and a charismatic coach (just read his quotes) who had much to prove.The Panthers started off slow in the beginning of the season but have now come together and are winning due to incredible physical play by their defense and smarter decision making by their young QB. Sound familiar?
Overall, I think Russell Wilson is right now the smarter and more mature QB but Cam Newton has the greater physical abilities and potential that just leave you in awe of due to his tide-end size. If he could gain some of Wilson's maturity (which I am finally seeing), Newton could be just an absolute force and make this Panther's squad a true Superbowl contender. Some of those long scrambles by Newton were just Wilsonesque. He is the only QB that in the NFL can scramble like Wilson - all while trapped in a gargantuan 6'6" 240 lbs body. He may not throw as well as Wilson on the run but he can explode for large chunks of yards due to his feet.
I am not so certain that Seahawks would be a strong favorite if they played Newton and the Panthers right now. In fact, I would just bring a coin and toss it. I think Carolina has the best front seven in the league and two of the best DTs in the league in two rookies named Short and Lotulelei. Seahawks win in the secondary but not by as much as we think. I would argue that the Panthers have the better overall defense despite the Seahawks ability in generating turnovers.
They certainly showed how close it could be in the week one 7-12 loss to the Seahawks but the Carolina Panthers were a different team then. This current and confident Panther team with their maturing leader at QB could be dangerous come playoff time. Perhaps its time for the Seahawks and their fans to stop thinking, writing, and talking about the 49ers and start paying attention to their equals in physicality and explosiveness: The Carolina Panthers.