At least to some degree, you can blame injuries for Carolina’s 7-9 season.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the Panthers had 65 missed starts due to injury. Only six teams had more missed starts.
Carolina had the most starts missed of any NFC South team. Tampa Bay was next with 48. The Bucs were hit hard as they lost Pro Bowl guards Davin Joseph and Carl Nicks. But you have to give the Tampa Bay backups credit for stepping up and doing an adequate job.
Part of the reason the Falcons went 13-3 was because they stayed relatively healthy. They had 33 missed starts, including 15 by cornerback Brent Grimes. They also had to play several games without linebacker Sean Weatherspoon and safety William Moore.
The New Orleans Saints were the NFC South’s healthiest team with only 20 games missed due to injury. That was the league’s third-lowest total. The Saints still finished 7-9, but I think we all know they had issues beyond injuries to deal with.