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Carolina Panthers 2013 NFL Season Preview and Predictions

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Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Gettleman inherited a very difficult situation when he took over as Carolina Panthers general manager this offseason. That’s not to say anything negative about Cam Newton or an extremely underrated bookend rush with Charles Johnson, Greg Hardy and Frank Alexander. It’s just that the previous front-office regime saddled Carolina’s cap in some ridiculous ways like loading up on good-but-not-great veteran running backs, as gaping weaknesses remain through the rest of the defense.

Cutting against popular opinion, I actually thank Ron Rivera could keep his job as head coach heading into the next season even if the Panthers finish 6-10, as I predict. Newton could develop into a more accurate passer and a borderline elite quarterback, even gaining MVP buzz for as long as Carolina remains in playoff contention. This could potentially save Rivera for at least one more year.

Yet, until Carolina can spend elsewhere with all that money currently invested in aging players like running backs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, the receiving corps and offensive line are just suffering to much for Newton to make this the type of offense that threatens 30 per game.

Despite a very good, young front-seven headed by 2012 Defensive Rookie of the Year Luke Kuechly — who should benefit from rookie defensive tackles Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short — this defense still looks middling-at-best to me. Awesome front-seven combined with league’s worst secondary burns you more often than not.

Predicted Regular Season Record: 6-10 (4th in NFC South)

Predicted Finish: Miss postseason

More of Thomas Emerick’s 2013-2014 NFL team predictions: NYG | WAS | PHI | DAL | GB | CHI | DET | MIN | TB | ATL | NO | CAR

Thomas Emerick is a Senior Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ThomasEmerick, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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