The Panthers and Cardinals have started the 2016 season with a 1-3 record. It is time to panic in Carolina and Arizona.

History Isn’t Kind

Since 1990, teams that started the season 1-3 have just a 15% chance of making the playoffs per Now the Panthers and Cardinals are unique because of last season’s performance. Carolina went 15-1 and Arizona 13-3 with each team finishing first and second in point differential respectively.

Teams that win 12 or more games the pervious season and start the following year 1-3 have a 23% chance of making the playoffs. However, only three teams (1976 Steelers, 1996 Cowboys and 2002 Steelers) that played in the conference championship the prior year have reached the playoffs after starting the following season with a 1-3 record.

What do the Simulations Say?


After 10,000 simulations of the 2016 season, Carolina has a 31.1% chance of making the playoffs. The Panthers are saved by virtue of playing in the weak NFC South. Cam Newton and crew have a 24.1% chance of winning the division despite being two games back of Atlanta. The Panthers most likely record is 8-8 but the team has a 13.8% chance of finishing with ten or more wins.


The Cardinals are also projected to finish with an 8-8 record but have a 15.8% chance to win double-digit games. Yet, Arizona is less likely to make the playoffs (22.8%) than Carolina. Why? The Cardinals only have a 9.6% chance of winning the NFC West with Seattle and LA each starting the season 3-1.

Cam Newton and Carson Palmer are both iffy for Week 5 after sustaining concussions in losses last week. The Panthers and Cardinals desperately need their starting quarterbacks to play but it might already be too late to save their seasons.

TeamDivision Win%Playoff ProbabilityMost Likely Record
Carolina Panthers24.131.18-8
Arizona Cardinals9.622.88-8