1. Cam Newton– Without him, they wouldn’t be here and that’s all facts. He’s put together a season to remember. 45 total touchdowns (35 passing and 10 rushing) and he’s having fun while he’s on the field. He’s the anchor to this Panthers offense because he’s able to get the football down the field in a variety of ways. He’s shown that he can throw it down the field and from the pocket and we all know what he can do with his legs. He’s just as important to the running game as their backs are. This Panthers team goes as far as he takes them and look where he’s got them right now. A game away from bringing the franchise their first championship.
2. Jonathan Stewart– He has a much bigger impact than people realize. I remember in 2014 when he was hurt, the Panthers offense struggled to make anything happen and when he came back, he gave this Panthers offense a spark when they desperately needed it. Jonathan isn’t the flashiest back and that’s fine with me. He can power himself through the tackles, fights for the extra yards and he can also catch the ball while sitting in the flat if all the receivers are covered down the field. He’s also a phenomenal pass blocker that can take on a blitzing linebacker coming in between the gaps.
3. Greg Olsen– When Kelvin Benjamin went down with the torn ACL in training camp, someone had to be that number one guy and Greg Olsen became just that. He’s always been a solid all around tight and he was Cam’s go to guy all season long. He’s a threat over the middle, he has breakaway speed and uses his strength to power himself over his defenders and he is a very sure handed guy down the field and he does his most damage in the red zone. He’s become one of the best tight ends in the NFL today and what he did for Jay Cutler in Chicago is exactly what he’s doing for Cam Newton with the Panthers.
4. Ted Ginn Jr– He became the Panthers number one receiver and had to step up when his team needed him. I remember early in the season when I was on the air, I said to my radio associates that this offense is in trouble especially when a guy like Ted Ginn is your number one receiver and I was dead wrong. The definition of an MVP is someone who makes those around him better and Newton has elevated the play of Ginn and turned him into a household name. He brings that big playmaking ability down the field and when Cam needed someone to make a catch, Ted Ginn was always the guy he turned too. He’s had a great season and he’s made the analyst himself eat crow.
5. Luke Kuechly– I was high on him while he was at Boston College and that same intensity that he played with then is what he has now. I see a mix of Brian Urlacher and Ray Lewis when I watch Luke play. He’s always aware of what’s going on and he’s exactly where the football is. He’s the definition of a ballhawk and he gets to the ball carrier as if his life depended on it. He plays sideline to sideline, he covers so much ground and he can get you a pick and take it to the end zone. He’s the best defensive player in the NFL that isn’t named J.J. Watt.
6. Thomas Davis– Every defense and every football team in general has that one guy that’s the heart and soul, meet Thomas Davis. He’s a great football player that’s just as important to this team as some of the others mentioned. I love how resilient this man has been. Thomas has torn his ACL 3 times and has comeback from each injury and he will play in this game on Sunday after breaking his arm in the NFC Championship. He’s a very underrated guy that gives this defense its identity.
7. Josh Norman– He’s arguably the best corner in football and the front-runner for defensive MVP this season. Josh has been the anchor of that secondary. He wants the number one receiver and he shuts down the entire side of the field that he is on. He’s physical with receivers at the line of scrimmage, he jams them at the line and he uses his speed and excellent footwork to cover anyone down the field.