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.
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.