Analysts and fans have questioned if Carolina can repeat last season’s 12-4 performance, which was highlighted by the team’s first division title since 2008. Upheaval at the skills position, most notably former cornerstone and future Hall of Famer Steve Smith’s departure, as well as lingering questions on the offensive line lead to the negative speculation.
On the offensive side of the ball, Carolina also has questions in the backfield as Jonathan Stewart has played in only 17 games since the 2012 season will look to regain his former step and DeAngelo Williams is coming a solid season, but will be 31 this season, usually the age which running backs begin the lose the burst of speed.
Though beginning training camp as the defending number two seed in the difficult NFC, Las Vegas odds recently put out projections for all NFL teams and foresaw the Panthers to decline this upcoming season. Currently, Carolina’s over/under is 8.5 wins (3.5 victories fewer than last season).
According to RJ Bell of Pregame.com, the bettors believed that Carolina, “got a little lucky” with last year’s impressive results. The projections though certainly do not represent how a team will perform in a season. Predicted to win only seven games by Vegas last season, the Panthers proved through a stout defense that they were better than Vegas’s forecast.
The strong suit of Carolina and most likely to be the backbone of a successful Carolina season, is an attacking defense led by Luke Kuechly. He surely looks to repeat last year’s performance as Defensive Player of the Year and being the anchor of a Carolina defense that led to a second ranked overall defense.
In an era which relies on quarterback play, the Panthers have the best tandem of defensive ends in the league with Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy to attack opposing passers. The safety position looks strong with Roman Harper and Thomas DeCoud, though the cornerback position may be the only concern for Carolina’s defense.
Josh Norman and Antoine Cason look like the early leaders to be the starting cornerbacks for Carolina. Norman has shown strong play in practice for two seasons as a Panther, but has yet to show consistent play for Carolina against rival receivers and Cason will look to bounce back after not even cracking the starting position in Arizona a year ago.
With a fairly easy schedule according to the NFL’s strength of schedule release, Carolina’s odds to win the Super Bowl were 28 to 1 (11th in the league). They odds to win the Conference are predicted at 14 to 1 (8th in the conference), and we are tied with the Atlanta Falcons at +275, to tie second in the division.
Tags: Carolina Panthers