NFL Team Preview: Carolina Panthers

The purpose of these previews is to provide a quick and dirty look at what the outlook is for each NFL team in 2019 according to my own philosophies and hot takes when it comes to pro football. That said, let’s take a quick report card look at where we came from, what’s expected, and the logic that drives my principles when evaluating NFL teams.

Division:NFC South
SB Odds:50/1
Division Odds (Moneyline):+600
2018 Rank Rushing Yds/Gm:4
2018 Rank Against the Run:12
2018 Rank Against the Pass:18
Returning Starters Offense:9
Returning Starters Defense:9

You may notice passing rankings are not included in my cute little NFL team report card. The reason for that is without at least one of, a top-10 ranked running game or top-10 defense, it generally does not matter how good your quarterback is. If you don’t believe me, read this genius’s irrefutable thorough analysis of elite quarterbacks, and how these two attributes correlate to their ability to win anything of note.

Now that you’re fully indoctrinated into my non-quarterback driven league cult, let’s do a quick run down of Carolina’s significant roster takeaways for this season.

Impact Additions – Acquisitions that are projected to start or have major rotational roles in 2019

4: C Matt Paradis, LB/DE Bruce Irvin, S Tre Boston, LB Brian Burns

Impact Losses – Departures that had started or had major rotational roles last season

4: DE Julius Peppers, LB Thomas Davis, C Ryan Kalil, WR Devin Funchess

Difference Makers – Players who are widely considered among the best at their position heading into 2019

9: QB Cam Newton, RB Christian McCaffrey, RG Trai Turner, RT Taylor Moton, LT Daryl Williams, DT Kawann Short, LB Luke Kuechly, DE Mario Addison, DT Gerald McCoy

Potential Breakout Candidates – Second or third year players that are logical selections to make “the leap” in the upcoming season based on past performance

2: LB Shaq Thompson, CB Donte Jackson

How it could work

There may not be another group’s upside that I like more than what the Panthers could be on defense. All the elements are there to make a slightly above average unit in 2018, become one of the very best in the NFL for 2019.

Yep, this group has it all on paper. Proven stud veterans in their prime like Kawann Short on the defensive line. Lined up next to him, a motivated mercenary Gerald McCoy on a one-year deal.

The floor general Luke Kuechly to back them up at middle linebacker. Adding a schematic shift to exploit the edge rush abilities of Mario Addison, and Shaq Thompson in a contract year.

In the secondary, an above-average cornerback duo that should be better in Donte Jackson’s second year. Between them, a classic hard hitting strong safety in veteran Eric Reid, and a shrewd one-year signing of safety, Tre Boston. No question, this defense is already upgraded from one season ago, when the Panthers missed the playoffs, finishing 7-9.

The last time the Panthers were in a playoff game, the defense put them in a 21-6 hole on the rode in New Orleans. The mix of these additions, and progressions from early round picks is exactly what the Panthers need to return to the post season, and be a serious threat when they get there.

Why it wouldn’t work

But, that team also had a healthy, effective Cam Newton. Which is really the only thing keeping the ceiling for this team, as one North Carolina legend put so eloquently, the roof.

Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Their most important player on both sides of the ball seems to be one play away from their careers being over. With Cam, it’s already coming up in the preseason. For Kuechly, everyone knows another concussion could be his last. There might be enough on defense to hold up without him, but Cam’s presence is ingrained too much in the identity of what the Panthers do offensively to sustain high level play in his absence.

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The threat of him in the RPO and goal line situations keeps defenses honest in a way I think Will Grier’s whiteness would limit him from doing. Plus, Cam’s a star. He gives the entire team the swagger it needs to win big.

Favorite GIF to Represent Fan Base

Final Prediction

Without him, or with an ineffective version of him, the Panthers aren’t the Panthers. Which would suck because I love this roster and believe it’s just as talented as any in the NFL. Besides, we need more Wildcard games like this one…

Go to the 1:10 mark of the video. Now, that’s a fucking dime! And, one of many from Cam in that game. If 2017 Cam is back, I’m ALL IN on this team being my favorite Super Bowl bet at 50/1. And, why not? With a substantial upgrade to the defense, there’s nothing they wouldn’t have.

McCaffrey already established himself among the elite offensive players last season. The offensive line has a reasonable claim as being among the best in the league. Also, I’m a huge fan of 5th round selection Jordan Scarlett. I would not be surprised if he’s the primary backup to McCaffrey by mid-season.

With those two and a healthy Cam, you could put me, a construction barrel, and Teddy Ruxpin at the other skill positions and still run a high octane offense. 2017 Cam shows up, way over 7.5 wins, and betting them 14 different ways to win everything. Mr. Glass arrives instead, and it’ll be the exact opposite.

We’ll move onto my other favorite Super Bowl kind of long shot, the Atlanta Falcons next.


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