Is Anyone Playing Better Than Cam Newton Down the Season's Home Stretch?

Nick KostoraContributor IIIDecember 23, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 16: Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers on December 16, 2012 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

He has oddly flown under the radar lately, but Cam Newton may be playing better than anyone down the home stretch of the NFL season.

Newton's season started terribly slow, as he had five touchdowns and eight interceptions through the Carolina Panthers' first seven games. The team had no offensive rhythm, it lacked intensity and Newton was a shell of the player who won Rookie of the Year.

However, sometime around Week 8 or 9, the switch was flipped.

Newton has reminded everyone why he is considered one of the most dynamic weapons in the game. He has thrown 10 touchdowns (scored 13 total) in his last five games and zero interceptions.

The turnover problems that plagued him early in the season have vanished. In their place is a QB who stands tall in the pocket, has great awareness of blitzing defenders and knows when to use his mobility to his advantage. 

Newton has garnered a passer rating of 109.8 since Week 11—a feat only surpassed by Robert Griffin III in that span. So, why has Newton had a late-season resurgence?

Offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski had the following to say, per the Charlotte Observer:

I've talked about Cam improving and that's one area: not taking sacks, getting rid of the ball, checking it down, getting it to a second read.

Those are the things quarterbacks do that can keep drives alive minimize negative plays or not trying to force the ball and throw an interception. You're stringing the plays together.

Newton is doing all of the right things and looks to be building solid momentum for a Panthers team hoping to join the playoff conversation next season.

As for the question at hand, has anyone been better than Newton down the stretch? Perhaps Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson or Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson could be considered to be playing at a higher level.

Johnson has over 100 yards receiving in each of his last eight games. Similarly, Peterson has rushed for over 100 yards in each of the Vikings' last eight games.

Still, those players have played well all season. Newton was able to take a bad 2012 campaign and turn it into a positive one.

Because of that, players like Johnson and Peterson may be playing great, but no one is playing better than Newton down the stretch.