The final three weeks of the 2016 NFL season began on Thursday night as the Seattle Seahawks quieted the Los Angeles Rams, 24-3. On Saturday night, the Miami Dolphins traveled north to battle the New York Jets.

Here we will focus on the final game of Week 5. And the defending and disappointing NFC champion Carolina Panthers will be in the spotlight once again.

What can go wrong has gone wrong

After losing just one regular-season game a year ago, Ron Rivera’s team sits at a stunning 5-8 in 2016. The Panthers will have to win out just to avoid a losing record.

During last season’s 15-1 showing, quarterback Cam Newton threw 35 touchdown passes compared to only 10 interceptions.

He also ran for 636 yards and 10 scores on the way to being named NFL MVP. His numbers this year are a shell of 2015 and he’s completing only 53.5 percent of his passes. He’s served up just 15 scores through the air, and been picked off nine times in 12 games. Newton has rushed for 317 yards and five touchdowns as well.

It’s a team that a year ago scored an NFL-high 500 points. They will need to average just under 30 points per contests the rest of the way to reach the 400-point mark.

Secondary the main problem

Led by All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman, safety Kurt Coleman, linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and defensive tackle Kawann Short, the #Panthers featured the NFL’s sixth-ranked defense.

With Norman gone via free agency, a team that allowed only 21 touchdown passes and totaled 24 interceptions has taken quite the dip.

In 13 games this year, the Carolina Panthers have surrendered 24 scores through the air. They’ve picked off only 15 passes. And this is with a respectable pass rush that has produced 39 sacks this year.

Of course, the team will get to see Norman on Monday night…as a member of the 7-5-1 Washington Redskins.

Can they play spoiler?

The schedule certainly says they can. After Monday’s tilt with the Redskins, the team hosts the Atlanta Falcons and then travel to Florida to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But it is also worth noting that this team has already lost to both of these clubs this season and owns a disappointing 1-3 record vs.

its divisional rivals this year.

Still, the opportunity is certainly there. And as long as Newton can stay on his feet, the Panthers won’t go away quietly. It will be interesting to see just how much fight is left in this club.

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