Here's where the Panthers stand in various power rankings following their 33-14 win over the Saints to close the regular season.
Panthers rank: 17th (8th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 1st, Panthers 17th, Falcons 20th, Buccaneers 25th
Beyond the numbers: The ESPN staff shared their New Year's resolution for each team, and David Newton chose a path much traveled: "Get Cam Newton's shoulder healthy." Due to a consistently sore throwing shoulder, the Panthers quarterback was shut down for the final two games of the season.
Panthers rank: 19th (10th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 1st, Falcons 17th, Panthers 19th, Buccaneers 23rd
Beyond the numbers: Head coach Ron Rivera was the focal point of Frank Schwab's approach to Carolina's 2019 season. "Being patient and not just reacting to a bad season by firing a good coach is OK," wrote Schwab. A solid take for a team looking to strengthen their foundation this offseason.
Panthers rank: 20th (10th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 1st, Falcons 17th, Panthers 20th, Buccaneers 27th
Beyond the numbers: The B/R staff described Carolina's season-ending 33-14 win over the Saints as an "emphatic thrashing" but the praise stopped there. Given their disastrous second half of the season (1-7 to close the year after starting 6-2), the Panthers were pegged as the NFC's most disappointing team.
Panthers rank: 23rd (11th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 1st, Falcons 17th, Panthers 23rd, Buccaneers 29th
Beyond the numbers: Rivera's return and Newton's shoulder were also Pete Prisco's biggest takeaways at the conclusion of 2018.
Panthers rank: 23rd (12th in NFC)
NFC South: Saints 1st, Falcons 17th, Panthers 23rd, Buccaneers 27th
Beyond the numbers: Elliot Harrison calls Carolina retaining Rivera a "wise move," acknowledging that the two-time Coach of the Year has led the Panthers to the playoffs four times in eight seasons. He also questions Newton's health entering the 2019 season. The 2015 MVP turns 30 four months ahead of his ninth NFL season. "Throughout NFL history, quarterbacks in their 30's tend to run less," Harrison wrote, suggesting that Newton may have to adapt and adjust his game.