Atlanta Falcons vs. Carolina Panthers: Tale of the tape

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The coaches

With Ron Rivera, the Panthers have been rewarded for staying patient and allowing their head coach to build the team he wants. And what’s he done is slowly build a team now sitting 12-0 with a third straight NFC South crown wrapped up. He’s taking the Panthers to the playoffs again; it’s just a matter of how far they will now go.

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Rivera took over as the Panthers head coach in 2011, a year after the team finished 2-14. This was the same year the Panthers selected Cam Newton, and you can see the difference both men have made to the franchise.

They finished 6-10 in their first season, and Cam Newton was named the Offensive Rookie of the Year. They improved by a game a year later to finish 7-9, and Rivera was named Coach of the Year in 2013 with a 12-4 finish and NFC South title.

In 2013, the Panthers were beaten by the 49ers in the Divisional Round, but they returned to the playoffs in 2014 and sent home the Cardinals before falling to the Seahawks. We are now seeing all of the patience and hard work pay off, as the Panthers will be in the hunt for a Super Bowl, and even a perfect season.

Dan Quinn is a rookie head coach and faces a tough challenge now, picking his team off the ground after a 6-1 start. Rivera won six games in his first year as a coach, and the Falcons need to be patient with Quinn as the Panthers were with Rivera.

Next: The quarterbacks