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NFL Carolina Panthers

5 Reasons Why Carolina Panthers Fans Should Be Excited For the 2014 Season

5 Reasons Why Carolina Panthers Fans Should Be Excited For the 2014 Season

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Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In 2014, the Carolina Panthers won 12 games for the first time since 2008 and this year fans are hoping for 13. Following a great regular season, the Panthers fell to the 49ers in a NFC Divisional matchup and the loss left a lot more to be desired. This season the Panthers have lost some key veterans, but the team hopes to keep the same momentum from last year. Here are five reasons why Panthers fans should be pumped for 2014.

5. Kelvin Benjamin is a True No.1 Receiver

kelvin benjamin carolina panthers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

5. Kelvin Benjamin is a True No.1 Receiver

kelvin benjamin carolina panthers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The longtime Panther Steve Smith is no longer on the team, so it is up to Benjamin to make fans forget about him. Benjamin is a different mold of receiver compared to the small, speedy Smith, and he is a big target that Cam Newton needs. He should provide the Panthers with a spark on offense, and if Cam Newton can get the ball to him often, he will put up some big numbers.

4. Veterans Gone, Others Step Up

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4. Veterans Gone, Others Step Up

panthers football helmet
Getty Images

The Panthers are good in a lot of places, but they are not great. What I mean by that is they have a lot of positions with good, quality depth. The Panthers are set at running back and defensive line, but they could still improve on the secondary and offensive line. If the team's weaker positions step up and produce then it will be an added bonus. Look for safety Roman Harper and guard Trai Turner to play well this season.

3. Last Season's Success

Carolina Panthers
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

3. Last Season's Success

Carolina Panthers
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

12-4 and an NFC South crown were two great accomplishments by the Carolina Panthers. Despite the success and outplaying their projections, I'm sure a lot of fans want their Panthers to go even further this year. It's going to be tough for the Panthers to repeat and surpass last season. This team knows what it takes to win the NFC South, and even though the odds are against them I wouldn't be surprised if they did it again.

2. Elite Front Seven

carolina panthers defensive line
Getty Images

2. Elite Front Seven

carolina panthers defensive line
Getty Images

Greg Hardy, Star Lotulelei and Luke Kuechly headlined a pretty stellar Carolina Panthers defense in 2013. This core trio will have to play big in 2014 if they want to win the NFC South again this season. The team lost Captain Munnerlyn in the offseason and the secondary was ranked No. 29 in 2013, so the pressure for those three to produce will be felt even more. The Panthers' front seven is talented enough to overcome the secondary woes.

1. Cam "Superman" Newton

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Cam "Superman" Newton

cam newton panthers qb
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Newton threw for 24 TDs last season, and he showed the world why he is one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. This season he will be without his go-to-guy Steve Smith, so Newton really needs to play the Superman role once again. In 2014, Newton will have a wide receiver crew that did not have a single catch when he was at QB in 2013. If the Panthers plan on going far in 2014, the man with an "S" on his chest has to live up to his name.

Vinny Lanni is a New York Jets writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter or add him to your network on Google.