Carolina Panthers: 2003 vs 2015, Who’s better?

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carolina panthers
Jan 25, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Team Irvin linebacker Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers (59) shakes hands with Panthers mascot Sir Purr in the 2015 Pro Bowl against Team Carter at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

The other way to try it is to run a simulation. CBS Sports has been running Strat-O-Matic simulations for all the Super Bowl winners to determine the best Super Bowl team ever. The Strat-O-Matic game and its roster expansions cost a fair bit of money, so I looked for an inferior if cheaper option.

Madden used to do historical teams in some of its games, but those were often clones of each other. A dedicated Madden fan could use the create a team function to plug in the data from the Madden 04 version of the Panthers (or the Madden 05 version since that would give you a better sense of value). That would take a lot of time though and some the variables used as ratings have changed over the years.

So I went to WhatIfSports’ free NFL Sim Matchup tool. There I can get a simulated version of a game between 2003 Panthers and 2015 Panthers with a generated box score. The only down side is that I couldn’t play the game on a neutral field. I have therefore given the 2015 team home field since they had the better record. I set the game at 70 degrees with no rain or wind.

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I also thought it best to do a seven game series since the generator takes just a few seconds to fire.
Game 1 – 2003 Panthers 24 2015 Panthers 6
Big game for Steve Smith. Mike Rucker led the defense with nine tackles. I point out Rucker’s tackles because that doesn’t seem terribly realistic.
Game 2 – 2015 Panthers 27 2003 Panthers 24
Mike Tolbert had 149 yards rushing. Again, the weakness of the simulator.
Game 3 – 2015 Panthers 16 2003 Panthers 14
Won on a field goal.
Game 4 – 2003 Panthers 13 2015 Panthers 6
Newton was named player of the game despite being on the losing team.
Game 5 – 2015 Panthers 20 2003 Panthers 17
Stephen Davis was named player of the game despite being on the losing team
Game 6 – 2003 Panthers 24 2015 Panthers 20
Davis had 170 yards rushing while Stewart (102) and Tolbert combined for almost as many.
Game 7 – 2003 Panthers 24 2015 Panthers 16
Ricky Manning Jr had seven tackles. Graham Gano kicked three field goals.

Next: 1996 Panthers > 1996 Jaguars

So there you go, a 4-3 series in favor of the 2015 Panthers. I would recommend you make your own simulations if you do not trust the engine. Yet it at least provides a result to go by.

The 2015 Panthers will be playing the 2015 Broncos in the Super Bowl on February 7.