A FOX Sports analyst made the boldest claim possible about the Carolina Panthers and their potential chances during the 2023 season.
There is a completely different vibe surrounding the Carolina Panthers these days. The new brain trust navigated its way through one of the most important offseasons in franchise history exemplary, restoring the culture and increasing professionalism to an extent that was never witnessed under the previous regime.
Carolina has a potential franchise quarterback in Bryce Young, only one or two weak position groups, and a coaching staff that is arguably the NFL's best. They also have a deeply rooted, experienced head coach who is part of the organization's fabric and has raised standards almost instantly.
The energy has been evident and hasn't gone unnoticed by team legends such as Luke Kuechly and Jake Delhomme who've spent time observing practice throughout early workouts. It's also made the Panthers a sexy pick of sorts to make legitimate strides during their first campaign with Frank Reich at the helm.
Carolina Panthes tipped to be NFL's surprise package in 2023
Colin Cowherd of FOX Sports went even bigger, stating on The Herd via Sportskeeda that he's picked Carolina to be his surprise team across the entire league. This is a pretty bold statement - one that is based on a weak-looking NFC and the prospect of Young hitting the ground running as a rookie.
"I have decided that Carolina is my surprise team in the league this year. Somebody doubles their win total. We went and looked this morning… over the last, you go back to the 90s. The average is six new playoff teams and at least four. So I don't see a ton of surprises in the AFC because the quarterbacks are so good and dominant. The NFC though is kind of wide open after Philadelphia and the Niners roster… I think Carolina is going to be surprisingly capable with Bryce Young."- Colin Cowherd via Sportskeeda
While emerging as a Super Bowl hopeful might be stretching things at this stage, the Panthers believe anything is possible. They've invested well in the roster, boast improved depth almost across the board, and should hold their own against the NFL's best if the pass-rushing opposite Brian Burns and cornerback unit don't become weak links.
Taking things one game at a time is the best course of action until further notice. Carolina isn't in any position to get complacent, but their schedule indicates getting off to a strong start is distinctly possible
This could be the platform from which to build a profitable campaign. But a situation could emerge where the Panthers take a little time to hone cohesion given how many changes have transpired since the previous regime was mercifully removed.
The NFC South isn't expected to be strong - at all. This is something the Panthers can take advantage of providing they get their own house in order before Reich's men take the field in Week 1 at the Atlanta Falcons.
Whether the Panthers make the playoffs or not, fans should feel safe in the knowledge there is finally a long-term strategy in place for sustainable success. There are no more quick fixes, panic trades, or one man holding the cards - this is a collaborative project that can hopefully propel Carolina to the NFL's top table for a decade or more.
And it's been a long time since anybody could say that.