The Panthers are now 2-0 after wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Houston Texans. I was impressed a year ago after the Panthers started the same way, beating the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Detroit Lions. Any similarities between the 2014 and 2015 starts by the team are swiftly dismissed by anyone on the Panthers team, both coaches and players. They say this team is a different team, and they are focused not on the past, but on their next opponent, the New Orleans Saints.
But the biggest similarity that I do see is in the level of opposition for both the first two games of 2014 and these two games in 2015. The only winning team out of the four opponents was the Detroit Lions, who were 11-5 in 2014. The cumulative record of the 2014 Bucs and this year's opponents is 3-17. The scheduling has favored the Panthers so far. As I have written before, they should look to take advantage of this, as things will not get any easier come the games in October and November.
The combined 2014-15 records of the next two opponents is 10-26. The combined records of five opponents in Oct/Nov (Seahawks, Eagles, Colts, Packers, and Cowboys) is 61-31. I am in firm belief that we need to be 4-0 or at least 3-1 before we start this rough uphill climb against much tougher opponents during the midseason. Also, we need to win at least two of these five games, and hopefully more, if we have a chance to win our division or make the playoffs.
The Panthers played "good enough" to win the last two weeks. The offense was mediocre at times. They did not take advantage of all of their opportunities, but scored when it was required to win the game. The defense was great at times, but had lapses. It also rose to the occasion when the game was on the line. But the Panthers obviously have the talent to be better than they have showed the first two games. They should and can dominate games against weaker opponents. They will have to play much better against the upcoming five stronger opponents to have any chance of winning those games.
Here's hoping that they will rise to, not just the occasion, but to the pinnacle of their success.