At this point every year, I sit down and talk myself into the Panthers going anywhere from 11-5 to 13-3. This year however, I am struggling to get to that point, but don’t worry, after enough time I got there. Throughout this post, I am doing to mention and breakdown a couple of players, do a quick run through of their draft, and end it with a complete breakdown of their schedule.
Obviously there is Luke Kuechly, Cam Newton, and Greg Olsen. They HAVE to preform and stay healthy for the Panthers to have ANY kind of success. Obviously the secondary has not shown up at all for the past few season, but I expect that to change. Bradberry and Jackson are both going to have fantastic years. Eric Reid is going to return to form, and we welcome back Tre Boston, who can remember the energy we need to have to match the 2015 season. As for the linebackers, a key offseason signing of Bruce Irvin is going to, in my opinion, prove very crucial as he will be able to pass off a ton of his knowledge to our already talented linebacker group. Every year this player seems to be “the breakout guy” but he never has proven to be. And that is Shaq Thompson. A tremendous outside linebacker, but has never taken it to the next level that the Panthers are looking for. And then we get to the front four. Fantastic. Gerald McCoy was a great offseason acquisition and I am predicting a bounce back season for Dontari Poe. You can always expect KK Short to have a great year along with Mario Addison. And then there is the newcomer Brian Burns, and I will touch on him later. But I will say one thing, I am very excited for this man to join the Carolina Panthers. VERY.
As for the offense, the offensive line is terrible. Just terrible. A somehow ranked middle of the pack pass blocking o-line, they have got to just add a few more seconds for Cam. And part of this is on Cam too. He takes way to long for a play to develop. He needs to go through his drop back and by the time his back foot plants know who he is throwing too. As for the run block, we were the 6th worse run blocking team. And if you think of how good McCaffrey was, just imagine him on a team that could actually block for him. Wild right. I think the run block is going to make a lot of improvements and the pass blocking is actually going to suffer. Which brings me to my next point, Cam Newton. What a wild ride he is. Cam needs to stay healthy if the Panthers want ANY sort of success. Coming off a shoulder surgery, I think we are going to see a Cam Newton similar to his MVP season. DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel are both going to have breakout seasons with this improved Cam Newton and McCaffrey is going to continue to be one of the best backs in the league.
Now for the most interesting part. Dissecting the Panthers schedule. Probably none of what I actually said above is going to happen which means that the next part is also gonna be wrong.
Week #1: At home playing the Los Angeles Rams
Plain and simple the Panthers are going to get thrashed. We are not going to come out hot, the Rams are going to run all over us and just dominate us. Very little chance the Panthers actually win this game.
Week #2: At home playing the Tampa Bay Bucs
After a probable demoralizing loss in week one, the Panthers are going to come back strong in a early division game. It is always going to be a tough game with the NFC South, but the Bucs are definitely the easiest team to play. I believe the Panthers will come out on top but it won’t be easy.
Week #3: Away playing the Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals are probably going to be one of the worst teams in football. However, the Panthers can never get up for these kinds of games. They seem to play down to the level of the opponent. However, the Panthers are going to win this game easily and it won’t be much of a contest.
Week #4: Away playing the Houston Texans
Deshaun Watson is going to pick apart the Carolina Panthers. We will have no solution. We will lose this game to get to 2-2 on the season through 4 games.
Week #5: At home playing the Jacksonville Jaguars
This is going to be one of the closest games of the Panthers season. I believe that we are going to come out on top after a tough battle and improve to 3-2.
Week #6: Away playing the Tampa Bay Bucs
The Panthers will easily win this game. It won’t be much of a challenge, but will prove to be a very big win as we will continue to gain momentum. 4-2 on the season and getting into a rhythm.
WEEK 7 BYE
Week #8: Away playing the San Francisco 49ers
The Panthers should easily win this game. 5-2 on the season.
Week #9: At home playing the Tennessee Titans
I do not like Mariota and especially don’t think his career is going ANYWHERE. Panthers win another easy game to get to 6-2.
Week #10: Away playing the Green Bay Packers
Away at Lambeau is always challenging. Especially if the Packers have a defense which I believe they will be pretty tough this year. Panthers drop this game. And it won’t be close.
Week #11: At home playing the Atlanta Falcons
NFC South games are always challenging whether it is home or away. Panthers win this game behind a fantastic McCaffrey game. 7-3.
Week #12: Away playing the New Orleans Saints
We get smashed. Never can play the Saints. Kamara tears us apart. 7-4.
Week #13: At home playing the Washington Redskins
I believe by this time Haskins is going to be playing for the Redskins and he torches us. Panthers drop back to back games to get to 7-5 on the year.
Week #14: Away playing the Atlanta Falcons
Panthers lose three straight and start to get frustrated with the way things are going. After a close loss in Atlanta the Panthers begin to think about firing Ron Rivera. 7-6 on the year.
Week #15: At home playing the Seattle Seahawks
Four straight losses for the Panthers after a great start to the season leads to even more thought about Rivera’s job security. 500 on the year sitting at 7-7 with 2 weeks left.
Week #16: Away playing the Indianapolis Colts
The Colts are going to be one of the worst teams in football. Panthers win this one to at least finish at 500 for the season. It seems as if Rivera will be safe. 8-7.
Week #17: Away playing the New Orleans Saints
The Panthers get absolutely embarrassed in this game. Finishing at 500 on the season and not making the playoffs, Rivera is definitely on the hot seat. 8-8 on the year. Disappointing to say the least.