Season Preview – Carolina Panthers

Teddy B
Teddy Bridgewater impressed so much in his five unbeaten starts in New Orleans that Carolina moved along an NFL MVP and gave him $63m. (Photo: Bleacher Report)

Home games: Las Vegas, Arizona, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa Bay, Detroit, Denver, New Orleans.

Road games: Tampa Bay, LA Chargers, Atlanta, New Orleans, Kansas City, Minnesota, Green Bay, Washington,

Projected record: 5-11

Change has swept through the Carolinas.

Riverboat Ron Rivera is gone after nine seasons, including a trip to Super Bowl 50. The 2015 NFL MVP, Cam Newton, is gone and the team’s premier defender of the past decade, Luke Kuechly, is also gone. The team’s most reliable offensive pass-catcher, Greg Olsen, departed for Seattle after a decorated career in Charlotte.

Former Baylor mentor, Matt Rhule, takes the reins as a rookie NFL head coach whilst Teddy Bridgewater evidently impressed as a stand-in for Drew Brees in New Orleans with the Panthers signing him to a 4-year, $63m deal to steer the ship.

So much of the offence runs through Christian McCaffrey and he is an absolute weapon in the run and pass game but overuse could quickly become a problem for CMC and the Panthers.

Robby Anderson arrives from The Big Apple, joining a speedy group of wideouts in D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Seth Roberts. Olsen’s departure leaves a gap at tight end so much will fall onto Bridgewater’s shoulders. It’s an interesting watch.

Auburn stud Derrick Brown was the No. 8 overall pick and he will immediately solidify the defensive front, teaming up with Kawaan Short in the trenches and Shaq Thompson at the second level.
Tre Boston, Donte Jackson and Juston Burris will lead a secondary which is about see serious firepower inside the division. Dealing with Mike Thomas, Julio Jones and Mike Evans is no mean feat for the very best defenders, let alone this unproven group.

So much change rarely sees a team immediately emerge as a playoff contender and inside a division which has only strengthened, Carolina could be in for a tough season or two.

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