Panthers' Playoff Chances On Life Support
The chances of the Carolina Panthers making the playoffs have taken a big hit following the team's current four game losing streak.
The Panthers are a half-game behind the Minnesota Vikings for the second NFC wild-card spot and have lost its last three games by a combined seven points.
Carolina's four-game slide that has them sitting at 6-6 does mean that even winning out – while very likely to earn Carolina a playoff bid – wouldn’t guarantee the Panthers a spot.
Win or lose Sunday in Cleveland, the Panthers still will be mathematically alive for the playoffs. Win all four of their remaining games, and the Panthers are highly likely to make the playoffs.
So what's ailing the Carolina Panthers these days? For starters, the health of the team's quarterback.
Panthers' quarterback Cam Newton has been dealing with soreness in his surgically repaired right shoulder affecting ability to throw deep. Newton was intercepted four times last week in a 24-17 loss to Tampa Bay
Carolina is averaging 140.8 rushing yards per game, only behind Seattle’s 148.8. Running back Christian McCaffrey had 161 total yards last week, becoming first player with five straight games of 50 yards rushing, 50 yards receiving.
Panthers lost TE Greg Olsen for season last week (ruptured plantar fascia). Panthers coach Ron Rivera has assumed defensive play calling from coordinator Eric Washington. Rivera fired D-line line coach Brady Hoke and assistant secondary/cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura.
Browns’ playoff chances took a big hit last week after losing to the Houston Texans. Rookie QB Baker Mayfield had worst game in month, throwing three interceptions in first half — most since freshman season at Texas Tech. Mayfield recovered and passed for 351 yards after halftime, completing 24 of 30 passes. He set team rookie record with 397 yards passing vs. Texans.
Browns 2-2 under interim coach Gregg Williams. Cleveland likely to be without rookie CB Denzel Ward (concussion).