CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Cam Newton says the 2018 Carolina Panthers may not be the most talented team he's been a part of, but it's getting up there in terms of "meshing and linking up perfectly" heading into Thursday night's game at Pittsburgh.
Outside linebacker Thomas Davis disagreed with his quarterback, saying this roster is more talented than the one in 2015 that had an NFL-best 15-1 record, reached the Super Bowl and had a franchise-record 10 Pro Bowl selections.
"He's been on a more talented team than this one?" Davis asked. "I've been around a lot of Cam teams, other than at Auburn, and they weren't that talented down there either. But this might be his most talented team. I don't know what he's talking about.
"From my observations, being a part of the 2015 team, athletically, speed-wise, from that standpoint in particularly on the offensive side, this is definitely the most talented set of guys I've been around."
The Panthers (6-2) are on a three-game winning streak that began with Newton leading three fourth-quarter touchdown drives to overcome a 17-0 deficit to the defending Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.
They've beaten Baltimore 36-21 and Tampa Bay 42-28 in their last two games.
The 2015 team won its first 14 games before losing at Atlanta in the next-to-last game of the season. It led the league in scoring with 31.3 points per game and was sixth in points allowed at 19.3.
This team ranks 11th in scoring (27.5 ppg.) and 12th in points allowed (22.5 ppg.).
But in terms of pure talent, Davis likes this team better, particularly on offense where he gives running back Christian McCaffrey the edge over Jonathan Stewart and the receiving corps that includes DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel the edge over Jerricho Cotchery, Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess.
"I mean, it speaks for itself," Davis said.
Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen agrees that the offensive weapons are the best Newton has had around him.
"Curtis with the ball in his hands. Christian with the ball in his hands. DJ with the ball in his hands. Obviously, Cam," Olsen said. "Those guys are just so explosive. They're so dynamic.
"You can give them all the ball as a handoff. You can throw it to them all. They're very unique in that regard. I don't know if we've ever had this many guys offensively that were that dynamic with the ball in their hands."
What has impressed Newton the most about the current team is the "harmony" by which so many different personalities have come together to play unselfishly.
On that he and Davis agree.
"We are often sidetracked by analytics, fantasy, this, that and the third," Newton said. "It all comes down to the boys in the locker room. Do they play for each other or do they play for themselves.
"That's what this team is kind of developing for ourselves. Listen, we may not necessarily be the best team in the league, but we're damn sure going to be the best team when we play. That's all that matters."