Carolina Panthers: 5 Reasons Defense Will Lead to the Playoffs

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Carolina Panthers: 5 Reasons Defense Will Lead to the Playoffs
Craig Jones/Getty Images
Panthers Great, Sam Mills (51), helped create a tradition of defense in Carolina.

The Carolina Panthers' legacy is built upon the shoulders of great defenses and defensive greats, from the days of Sam Mills and Kevin Greene to the John Fox era of Julius Peppers and Jon Beason.

Panthers head coach, Ron Rivera, also knows a thing or two about great defenses.

As a player, Rivera was a reserve linebacker on the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears defense.

As a defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, he coached one of the most feared defenses of the past decade.

Now the team Rivera coaches, the Carolina Panthers, is coming off one of its greatest offensive seasons, but the defense was among the NFL's worst in 2011.

Carolina's offense, led by offensive mastermind Rob Chudzinski, has an enviable blend of youth, talent and experience, but it is up to defensive coordinator Sean McDermott and the eleven guys lining up across from the likes of Drew Brees and Michael Turner to determine the Panthers' fate.

How the Panthers' defense fares in 2012 will determine whether Carolina improves upon last season's 6-10 record and makes a push for the playoffs this season, or whether the team watches from the bleachers like the rest of us.

Here are five reasons to believe the Panthers' defense will "keep pounding" opponents all the way to a playoff berth this season.

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