The Carolina Panthers surprised everyone by winning 12 games in 2013. The Panthers’ poor offseason have many people doubting their chances to match last season’s success. Carolina lost a lot of players from last year’s team. The problem is their salary cap situation didn’t allow them to replace key players.
The best news for Carolina is that the front seven from last year’s defense is back. The defense will have to carry this team because the offense has a chance to rank in the bottom half of the league. Cam Newton is already banged up and will be playing behind a revamped offensive line, which hasn’t looked good so far. The wide receiving group is dependent upon a rookie. While Kelvin Benjamin appears to be the real deal, it’s never a good idea to have a rookie wide receiver be the No. 1 guy.
Another potential downfall for the Panthers is their schedule. Winning the division last year earned them games against the Philadelphia Eagles and Seattle Seahawks. Those two games are a part of a brutal five-game stretch that includes games at the Cincinnati Bengals, at the Green Bay Packers and versus the New Orleans Saints. I think winning two out of those five games would be a good result.
The NFC South also figures to be one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. The Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be much improved from last season. Coach Ron Rivera might have to become even more aggressive with his decision-making in order to keep up with this division.
The Panthers’ defense will be good enough to keep them in a lot of games, but the offense won’t be able to pull out as many games as last season. I predict Carolina will finish the season at 7-9 because of their poor offense and tough schedule. The good news for Carolina fans is that everyone doubted them last season, and everything worked out just fine.