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Many thought a 7-9 campaign and another playoffs absence would’ve cost Ron Rivera and his staff a shot at overlooking the franchise for another season. But “Riverboat Ron” gambled and won again after upper management decided to keep him on for the upcoming season. The Carolina Panthers marched out a very underwhelming team a season ago, so much improvement will be necessary if it’s to compete for the title and be a player in the race for Super Bowl LIV. Even with offseason moves made to bolster the talent and depth on both sides of the ball, linemakers at offshore sportsbooks aren’t very bullish on the Panthers heading into the regular season with it expected to finish third in the NFC South behind the Saints and Falcons. Even so, Carolina has shown a penchant for bouncing back with big seasons following sub .500 performances. Will that trend play out once again in 2019-20?
The success of the offense ultimately hinges on the health of Cam Newton and his monstrous frame. The former Auburn Tiger was in the midst of one of his best seasons as a passer before being forced to sit out the team’s final two matchups. Before that, he had thrown for just under 3,400 yards and a 24:13 TD/INT ratio. He also added 488 yards and four scores on the ground, but only took off 101 times; down 38 attempts from the previous season. No. 1 is getting to a point in his career that he simply can’t just tuck it and run whenever everything breaks down. He’s best served looking to stud back Christian McCaffery out of the backfield. Better yet, just hand it off after the Stanford product exploded for 2,000 combined yards and 13 TD a season ago. It remains to be seen how much Greg Olsen has left in the tank with injuries killing his fantasy backers the last couple seasons. The good news is the wide receiver corps is on the verge of becoming a major force with DJ Moore and Curtis Samuels likely to be bigger focal points in the attack with Devin Funchess no longer on the roster; the duo really opened some eyes up last season.
Carolina’s stop unit was nothing short of mediocre a year ago. It ranked average or just below in just about every pertinent stat category. Where it really failed to get things going however was in the sack department where it registered a grand total of 35 overall. Gerald McCoy was brought in from the division rival Buccaneers to help improve the unit’s output. They also plucked Bruce Irvin and Dontari Poe off the Falcons defense. It’s very clear upper management saw the problem and has taken necessary actions to hopefully rectify it. With the defense’s top-five tacklers returning spearheaded by Luke Kuechly ( 93 ) , the Panthers should be improved on this side of the ball. That should give the team a shot at improving upon their poor 7-9 tally versus the oddsmakers from last season. The team went 4-3 ATS as dogs last season.
The betting markets aren’t buying into the moves the franchise made in early season win total odds betting. Carolina initially hit the board with an 8-game win total, but the number to beat currently checks in at 7.5 with modest -124 juice attached to the high side of the impost. On top of that, the Panthers offer up a juicy 6-1 return to win the NFC South. In other words, not much is expected from the Panthers in the race to the division crown or Super Bowl LIV. Regardless, Carolina’s roster is stacked with talent on the offensive side of the ball where a potential coming out party might go down. Should that occur, you’ll no doubt be thrilled if you invested in the Panthers at their current bloated offerings!