2020 Carolina Panthers Predictions and Season Win Total Picks
Ron Rivera is gone. Cam Newton is gone. Luke Kuechly is gone.
After a decade of relatively consistent success and stability, the Carolina Panthers are in the opening stages of a massive rebuild. Complicating matters is the disjointed, unorthodox nature of this NFL offseason, which has negatively impacted an organization that is looking forward to a fresh start.
The Panthers have a new coach, new quarterback, and a load of new players. But to this point, none of the players, coaches or support staff has been able to come together and get to the work of preparing for the season. Without minicamps, OTAs, rookie camp or any of the typical summer sessions, the Panthers are going to be at a severe disadvantage when the season begins.
New head coach Matt Rhule was known as a program fixer in college, having turned around decrepit programs at Temple and Baylor. He is stepping up in class to the NFL. And I am always skeptical of college coaches jumping to the NFL without prior pro experience. But so far, he’s received nothing but positive reviews from Carolina players and media insiders.
Teddy Bridgewater, who missed the 2016 and 2017 seasons while recovering from a devastating knee injury, is a reclamation project in his own right. Bridgewater went 5-0 and played extremely well in his audition with New Orleans last season. Now he’s been anointed as the starting quarterback and leader of the impending rebuild.
Carolina’s most impactful move of the offseason didn’t involved their new coach or quarterback. In mid-April, the Panthers signed all-world running back Christian McCaffrey to a $64 million contract extension that will keep him in Carolina through 2025. McCaffrey is wildly productive and the focus of the entire offense. And he’s now the face of the franchise.
That’s all the good news. Everything else is pretty much bad news. Carolina has one of the flimsiest rosters in the NFC. While they aren’t in full-blown Cleveland Browns/Miami Dolphins tank mode, they are heading into the 2020 season completely outgunned and overmatched.
McCaffrey has to carry the offense because there is nothing else to speak of. Carolina’s receiving corps has been a disaster since Steve Smith left in 2013, and, even with newly acquired Robby Anderson, is still a mess. The offensive line is mediocre at best, and there is absolutely no depth behind McCaffrey.
Defense is going to be a major issue for the Panthers. Rhule is scrapping Rivera’s Cover-2 scheme. I’ve seen this before; when teams transition away from the Cover-2, the first season is usually a bloodbath. The fact that Carolina has four rookies on their two-deep (and potentially two rookie starters) is a harrowing sign for new defensive coordinator Phil Snow.
Like Rhule, this is Snow’s first time as a coordinator in the NFL.
The Panthers are clearly the worst team in their division. By a hefty margin. They also have one of the most challenging schedules in the entire league. The Panthers may only be favored in as few as two games this year. And I have a hard time seeing them winning more than that. Carolina has one of the lowest season win totals in the NFL this season. But it’s still not low enough, and I would be absolutely stunned if Rhule can coax six wins out of this group.
Take Carolina Panthers ‘Under’ 6.0 Wins.
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