Finishing with the best record in the NFL, the 15 – 1 Carolina Panthers skirted with history by nearly becoming the third NFL franchise to finish the regular season undefeated and untied. Led by their remarkable quarterback Cam Newton, the Panthers are the favorites in the NFC to reach the Super Bowl for the 2015 season.
Expectations for the 2015 season were substantial, but arguably not nearly as high as the result since the Panthers went 7 – 8 – 1 in the 2014 season. However, under head coach Ron Rivera they did manage to win the NFC South and even beat the Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs before losing in the Divisional round. In addition, the Panthers did not have selections in the third, sixth, or seventh rounds of the NFL draft due to making trades. They did select Shaq Thompson, a linebacker from Washington as their first round selection.
The Panthers went 3 – 1 in the 2015 preseason with one point victories over the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins before losing by one point to the New England Patriots. They finished the preseason by blowing out the Steelers, but few at the time could have predicted what would happen during the regular season.
The season began with an expected victory against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars and the Panthers managed to win their next three games as well against the Houston Texans, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers to go into the bye week at 4 – 0.
It was their first game out of the bye week that really began to grab the attention of the fans as they beat the two-time defending NFC Champions Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field, arguably the toughest place for any NFL team to play. Over the next nine weeks, the Panthers managed to beat some impressive competition as they smacked the Philadelphia Eagles and then squeaked out an overtime victory against the Indianapolis Colt.
From there, the Panthers beat the Green Bay Packers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Redskins, and Dallas Cowboys before just getting past their arch rivals, the New Orleans Saints. From there, the Panthers smashed the Atlanta Falcons at home 38 – 0 and just beat out the New York Giants to go 14 – 0.
However, the dreams of an undefeated season came crashing down as they lost to the Falcons 20 – 13 despite having handily beat them two week previously. The Panthers finished out the season by smacking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 38 – 10 and finishing with a remarkable 15 – 1 record.
Despite not having their feature running back DeAngelo Williams and losing their star receiver Kelvin Benjamin in the preseason, the Panthers managed to become only the seventh team in NFL history to win 15 games in the regular season. They managed to win their third NFC South title in a row. Plus, they set a new franchise record of winning 14 games in a row and set an NFC record with the most wins before their loss.
The Panthers are the number one seed in the playoffs which means that they will host the Divisional round and Championship round if they win.