In 2013, the Panthers had one of their best seasons ever tying their franchise’s record for wins in a season. However in 2014, the NFL odds have the Panthers as much greater of an underdog to win the Super Bowl. Can Carolina duplicate their 12-win season, or is regression on the horizon?
Super Bowl (+4000)
The Panthers lost in the Wildcard round to a very good 49ers team, however that shouldn’t take away from the fact that they were a very good football team a season ago. Their defense ran the team and Cam Newton had a breakout season in 2013, proving to everyone he is the real deal. However this season they find themselves in the middle of the pack when it comes to the futures NFL odds, the Panthers aren’t looking that good. It’s for good reason as well. Their defense has some turnover to worry about, especially in the secondary where they have three out of four new starters back there. On top of their secondary having some turnover, the offense is dealing with their own turnover as well, and it could be more damaging to the Panthers’ chances of getting back to the playoffs.
After winning their division, the Panthers had a lot of trouble scoring on better defenses. The wildcard game against the 49ers was a perfect example. The Panthers only mustered up 10 points in that game, and after losing their entire wide receiving core from a year ago, things are going to get even more difficult against those tough NFC defenses. Right now the Panthers have Jericho Cotchery and Kelvin Benjamin listed as their starting receivers on offense, and after having Steve Smith and Brandon LaFell in those spots, this is a huge downgrade for Newton and company. Even their running game is going to have some issues this season. DeAngelo Williams is entering his 9th season at age 31, and he is one bad hit from retiring. Jonathon Stewart was an excellent running back before he got hurt, but he missed out on all but six games in 2013. Even in those games he didn’t look healthy, and if he isn’t there to shoulder some of the load at running back, the Panthers are going to take a huge step back this season. Newton can’t be the running back and quarterback all season (even though he might have to be).
NFC South (+325)
Last season the Panthers went 5-1 SU against their division, and with all three teams looking much better than they were in 2013, I sincerely doubt that happens again. With that being said, I also find it hard to believe that the Panthers could win the division winning less than four or five of their divisional games. The Falcons aren’t going to be as bad this season, and the Saints are likely going to still win 10 or 11 games. Even the Bucs are going to be a pretty good team on defense, and with the Panthers’ offensive woes looking like they’ll be an issue in 2014, I can’t recommend Newton and the Panthers as solid NFC South NFL Odds favorites.