The Carolina Panthers have been an enigma in recent seasons. They were dominant in 2015, making it to the Super Bowl, and then followed that up with a six-win season in 2016 before bouncing back with an 11-5 campaign last year.
Star quarterback Cam Newton is still the leader and the team’s fortunes will ride with his performance. The defense has Luke Kuechly leading the way once again but lost its defensive coordinator for a second straight season when the Cardinals hired Steve Wilks as their head coach.
The Panthers are in a tough division but have some very talented pieces. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all comes together. This team is once again one of the toughest to forecast in NFL gambling.
Carolina Panthers Opening Futures Odds at BookMaker.eu
Panthers Over 8.5 Wins +102
Panthers Under 8.5 Wins -123
2018 Panthers Offense Preview
Newton is the engine on offense. He threw for 3,302 yards with 22 touchdowns a year ago but tossed 16 interceptions. He carried the ball 139 times for 754 yards and six more scores. It was a career-high in rushing yards as Newton is a tough guy to bring down when he gets moving.
Newton will rely a lot on running back Christian McCaffrey, who was the team’s first round pick a year ago. McCaffrey can both run the ball and catch it and he should be a large part of the offense in 2018.
The issue for Carolina is its receivers. Torrey Smith was brought in during the offseason but isn’t much more than a pure deep threat at this point in his career. The Panthers will need to prove they can beat teams through the air in order to surpass their projected win total.
2018 Panthers Defense Preview
Carolina has long relied on its strong defense to lead the way. Kuechly is one of the best players in the NFL, while fellow linebackers Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson round out an elite unit. Kawann Short leads the defensive line but there are some question marks in the secondary.
The Panthers used to have Josh Norman locking down one cornerback spot but he is gone and the defensive backs have been up and down since then. Carolina needs to have a dominant defense because it plays in the same division as the explosive Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.
2018 Carolina Panthers Schedule Analysis
The Panthers have two tough games right out of the gate, as they host the Dallas Cowboys and hit the road to play the Falcons. That could tell us a lot about this team quickly.
Carolina has a few easy games on the slate but for the most part there are no long stretches where it figures to dominate. The Panthers have to play the Falcons and Saints twice as well as the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles, the Steelers, the Ravens and the Seahawks.
Carolina wants to avoid an 0-2 start and if it can do so, it sets up well for a nice run to become mainstays in the divisional race and the playoff hunt.
The Final Verdict
The Panthers have too many question marks to be considered the favorite in the AFC South because both the Saints and Falcons have more well-rounded teams. Much of it comes back to Newton, as he is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL when things are going well.
The Panthers are too inconsistent to trust in 2018. A mediocre season could be on the horizon in NFL wagering.
NFL Odds: Carolina Panthers Under 8.5 Wins (-123)
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