The 5 Games That Will Determine Carolina Panthers Fate in 2013

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The 5 Games That Will Determine Carolina Panthers Fate in 2013
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have not qualified for the playoffs since 2008, but that could change this season. 

Since their last postseason appearance, the Panthers drafted Cam Newton, who won the 2011 Offensive Rookie of the Year Award and Luke Kuechly, who led the league in tackles on the way to winning Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2012. 

Young building blocks like Newton and Kuechly have the Panthers set up for a consistent level of success, but it's up to the front office to supply the right players around them. 

Carolina is solid in some areas, (quarterback, along the defensive line and linebacker come to mind) but appear to be shaky in other  (in the secondary and at wide receiver). So while a playoff run this season is possible, the Panthers will need development from certain players in order to pull it off. 

According to CBSSports.com, the Panthers have the league's hardest schedule in 2013. While that should be taken with a grain of salt due to the NFL's competitive parity, seeing the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots on the schedule is worrisome. 

The Panthers overall success will be defined by a number of key games, as Carolina will face off against two-thirds of NFC playoff participants from last season. 

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