With starting QB Cam Newton re-signed and happy, the Panthers may be a good team to back in both Regular Season games from September to January and now in the Summer in Futures Book markets.
Let’s list the key games on the schedule, note who left and who has arrived, offer some trends for Panthers games and then offer up a couple picks based on the theoretical arc Carolina’s season may take.
The Carolina Panthers: Thank God We’re in the NFC South
The NFC South was the butt of millions of rightful jokes last season with all four teams finishing with sub.-.500 marks and these very Carolina Panthers winning the division virtually by default with a 7-8-1 record. With the lowly Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-14), slumping Atlanta Falcons (6-10) and New Orleans Saints (7-9), the NFC South is honestly a Gridiron Blessing for Carolina, especially at this point in Time with the Saints seeing legendary TE Jimmy Graham being traded to the defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks. Another good thing from the Panthers’ POV this season is that they probably won’t L6 straight games like they did last year after that (perennial NFL) Tie with the Bengals in Week 6. So, no wins in the heart of the season. Zero. Zip. Now with QB Cam Newton signed, RB Jonathan Stewart ready to rumble again and TE Greg Olsen, Carolina (9/5 to win NFC South, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) could shock the NFL, but the schedule does have an incredibly rough patch in the middle (Weeks 6-9) and the Panthers (22/1 to win NFC, Sky Bet) will have to definitely improve on their form of 2014.
With Head Coach Ron Rivera (36-30-1 ATS)—a former LB for the Chicago Bears—in charge, the Panthers (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Bwin) have a great leader who knows the game and a guy who obviously has gained the respect of his players. And rightfully so. And Carolina, which play in Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, has a decent fanbase hungry for a championship professional sports team with no MLB or NBA franchise and the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes being the only other team in town. So, go Cats right? In 2014 the Panthers did end up with a positive TO Differential Margin (+3, 13th), but they do need to improve on that statistic some, and should be able to with a balanced Defense which held 3 of their L7 opponents to their lowest yardage totals of the year. The Panthers also out-yarded their L8 opponents, including two in the NFL Playoffs (@ Cardinals, Won; @ Seahawks, Lost). The Panthers (8-9-1 SU overall, 9-9 ATS) don’t play and are one team that can beat any team in the NFL, Home or Away, and if they can survive that aforementioned Week 6-9 Seahawks-Eagles-Colts-Packers gauntlet and win one of the Road games at New Orleans or Dallas, they could be in the NFC title conversation along with those elite Seahawks (9/2 to win Super Bowl, bet365) and Packers (7/1, BetVictor).
One good thing about and for Carolina is that it was pretty good inside its NFC South division, going 4-2 SU and 4-2 ATS, and to win the division (again) in 2015, the Panthers will probably have to win 3 of their 4 games against the Buccaneers and Falcons and either split or sweep Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (50/1, Stan James) in those two meetings. So, like everything in Sports, it definitely won’t come easy. Nothing good or worth having ever does but getting over that mountainous Seattle Seahawks-Green Bay Packers Hump in the NFC may again prove to be a bit too much this season. Either way, keep your eye on the Panthers.
Carolina Panthers QB Depth Chart: Cam Newton—Derek Anderson—Joe Webb
Who’s New and Could Have an Impact? OL Michael Oher (Free Agent, Titans), WR-KR Ted Ginn, Jr. (Free Agent, Cardinals), CB Charles Tillman (Free Agent, Bears), Rookie LB Shaq Thompson (Washington), Rookie WR Devin Funchess (Michigan), Rookie T Daryl Williams (Oklahoma), Rookie LB David Mayo (Texas State), Rookie RB Cameron Artis-Payne (Auburn)
The Tough Games on Schedule: Week 6: @ Seattle; Week 7: Philadelphia; Week 8: Indianapolis; Week 9: Green Bay; Week 12: @ Dallas; Week 13: @ New Orleans
A Good Potential Betting Spot in Regular Season: Fading (betting against) Carolina in Week 6 and taking the Seahawks and laying the points because the Panthers are 0-6 SU and 0-6 ATS coming off an Off Week (Bye, Open Date) playing under Head Coach Ron Rivera.
Positive Relevant Trends: Panthers 5-1 L6 ATS vs. Falcons, 3-0 ATS L3 Home vs. Falcons; Panthers 11-3 ATS L14 vs. Saints; Panthers 4-1 ATS vs. Colts
Player to Watch: WR Kelvin Benjamin, 2nd season (73 receptions, 1,008 yards, 9 TDs in 2014)
Carolina Panthers Futures Picks: Carolina Panthers Regular Season Team Win Total Over 8½ +115 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), Carolina Panthers -4 over Jacksonville Jaguars, Week 1 (Pinnacle)