Carolina Panthers Twenty Brackets Round 1: Rivera Region

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Jan 3, 2015; Charlotte, NC, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) celebrates after beating the Arizona Cardinals in the 2014 NFC Wild Card playoff football game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Sharpe-USA TODAY Sports

1 Seed CAM NEWTON over 16 Seed Derek Anderson

Put a starter against his backup and what do think the result will be? Newton just signed a five year 103 million extension. Anderson will never see money like that. Anderson was big in two games last year, Newton was important in the other six wins.

8 Seed CHARLES JOHNSON over 9 Seed Greg Hardy

Johnson’s longer career with the Panthers is the deciding factor here. When the question was asked on how to replace Julius Peppers, Johnson stepped up as the answer in a contract year. While he has never the total answer, he continues to be an important cog for the Panthers defense. Hardy just did not see the field enough to push Johnson aside. His big contract season was followed by the year we discovered the commissioner’s exempt list.

4 Seed RON RIVERA over 13 Seed Kelvin Benjamin

Riverboat Ron has piloted the Panthers to consecutive playoff berths and division titles. Both of those achievements are unprecedented for a head coach of the Panthers. That collective accomplishment will outweigh the one season we have seen from Kelvin Benjamin. Ten years from now, this might look different. Ten years from now Benjamin won’t be a thirteenth seed in the bracket.

5 Seed THOMAS DAVIS over 12 Seed Graham Gano

If Gano was Kasay, this would be different. No one has had the career that Thomas Davis has had. To come back from three knee injuries and still play at a high level. To be the NFL Man of the Year last year. Davis is no 5-12 upset waiting to happen.