NFL: Will the Carolina Panthers be the first of 12 teams to end their Super Bowl drought? 

Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers
Carolina Panthers v Green Bay Packers

Heading into the 2021 NFL season, the Carolina Panthers are among the 12 NFL teams that have never won a Super Bowl.

In the AFC, the Tennessee Titans, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, and Buffalo Bills are yet to win a Lombardi trophy.

Over in the NFC, the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions, the Atlanta Falcons, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Panthers have also yet to taste Super Bowl glory.

Last week, the SK writers team explored which of the four teams to have never played in the Super Bowl is currently best suited to make it there.

The Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals have also had their chances of Super Bowl glory assessed by Sportskeeda.

But what about Cam Newton's old team, the Carolina Panthers? Can the Panthers become the first team in the aforementioned dozen to end its Super Bowl drought?

Are the Carolina Panthers equipped to make a Super Bowl run?

Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings
Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings

The Panthers endured a tough 2020 season. They lost star player Christian McCaffrey early on, and they struggled to win games without him. With a 5-11 record, Carolina finished third in the loaded NFC South.

Though the team's 2020 record is nothing to write home about, the Panthers were involved in some barnburners, as they often came up short by single scores. Win or lose, Carolina was an exciting team to watch.

In some ways, the Panthers' talent level is greater than that of a typical 5-11 team. Curtis Samuel, Robbie Anderson, and D.J. Moore give the Panthers a few electric weapons on offense. Of course, when McCaffrey is healthy, he's one of the best running backs in the NFL. With a little luck, the Panthers could field an offense that rivals even the best units in the NF.

Carolina also made substantial improvements to its defense during the 2020 NFL Draft. Jeremy Chinn was a candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Other players, like Yetur Gross-Matos and Derrick Brown, are expected to blossom in their sophomore seasons.

As for the team's secondary, the Panthers' pass coverage also took a major step forward in 2020, as the team ranked fourth in the NFL in slot coverage. Donte Jackson's development in the cornerback position was leading factor in this growth.

Panthers fans have plenty of reasons to be excited about the team's prospects. But there probably aren't any Super Bowl victory parades on the horizon. For all of these positive signs, there are just as many causes for concern.

Teddy Bridgewater's position as Carolina's quarterback is uncertain after he threw 11 interceptions last year. At times, he looked like a capable answer at the position, but he only three 15 touchdowns in 2020. Carolina might opt to look for a quarterback that can take it to the Super Bowl because Bridgewater might not be on that level.

Carolina also needs to address the offensive line because half of the group is set to enter unrestricted free agency. Bringing back tackle Taylor Morton (81.2 pass-blocking grade) would also be a wise move. He ranked as the third-best tackle in the NFL, according to PFF, so the Panthers should re-sign him at all costs.

Ultimately though, as with the Falcons, the Panthers play in the extremley tough NFC South. The Saints and the Buccaneers remain elite teams, so Carolina is facing a steep climb in its hope to win the Super Bowl anytime soon.

Can the Panthers make the required jump and become a legitimate contender in the next few years? Sound off in the comments below.

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Edited by Colin Tessier
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