The Carolina Panthers (1-4) could not be happier about their scheduled bye week this weekend after losing their last three games entering the break.
In addition to getting a chance to rest and recuperate, the entire Carolina Panthers organization—from Cam Newton to Ron Rivera, and from the offensive line to the defensive secondary—could use a mental break as well.
Carolina Panthers' 2012 Record Through Five Games
Week 1: Panthers 10, Buccaneers 16
Week 2: Saints 27, Panthers 35
Week 3: Giants 36, Panthers 7
Week 4: Panthers 28, Falcons 30
Week 5: Seahawks 16, Panthers 10
Despite winning just once in the first five weeks of the 2012 NFL season, Carolina's offense dominated in the running game and lit up the scoreboard in their victory over the New Orleans Saints (1-4) and in their loss to Atlanta.
However, Cam Newton and company managed just two touchdowns and a couple of field goals combined in losses to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-3), the Giants and the Seahawks.
Across the line of scrimmage, Carolina's defense had its best two games in Weeks 1 and 5, giving up just 16 points each to Tampa Bay and Seattle.
Close, But No (Victory) Cigar
Carolina has been in every game until the end except for the Thursday night fiasco against the Giants, and they should be riding a two-game winning streak heading into their in-season holiday.
But in reality, the Panthers are a far cry from being a winning team at this point in the season.
The team I predicted to go 10-6 before the season began appears more likely to repeat its 6-10 record from last season after starting 1-5 before playing .500 football the rest of the way.
While the defense has played up (or down) to expectations in the first five games, the Panthers offense has to find a way to get into the end zone with the frequency they got there in 2011.
Perhaps a return to the power-running game, in lieu of offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski's seemingly mandated read-option rushing attack, will help restore balance to the Carolina offense, though the season-ending loss of Pro Bowl center, Ryan Kalil, just made running the ball a whole lot tougher.
Though it is nearly impossible to accurately predict how the Jekyll-and-Hyde Carolina Panthers will play week-in and week-out for the rest of the season, here is a glimpse at the Panthers' game-by-game outlook for the 11 remaining contests on their schedule.
Unless otherwise noted, all team statistical data was obtained from each organization's team page at NFL.com.