2017 Carolina Panthers Road Schedule Odds with Expert Picks and Predictions
If you bet on the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC title last season, you clearly haven't been paying attention to the NFL for the past 25 years or so.
Do I think curses are tangible things that prevent franchises from winning? I do not. The Chicago Cubs broke the curse of the billy goat in 2016 in taking the franchise's first World Series title in 108 yards. Curses are meant to be broken.
That said, the Super Bowl curse appears very real. No loser of that game has even gotten back since those Jim Kelly/Thurman Thomas/Andre Reed/Bruce Smith Buffalo Bills reached and lost four straight Super Bowls in the early 1990s.
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The Panthers were clearly the NFL's best team in 2015 as they finished 15-1. Cam Newton was named NFL MVP and the offense led the league in scoring. The defense was a Top 5 unit. Carolina wasn't much challenged in the NFC playoffs before being upset by the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
It only took until Week 1 last year for Carolina to match its 2015 regular-season loss total and the '16 campaign already was over by Week 6 with the Panthers at 1-5. Newton was nowhere near the same player as his offensive line regressed and he battled injuries. Carolina slipped to 15 th in scoring. As an aside, monitor Newton's health as camp approaches considering he had surgery in late March to repair a partially torn right rotator cuff. Newton suffered the injury during a Week 14 win against San Diego. He missed all offseason OTAs and minicamp but should be ready for training camp next week. Coach Ron Rivera also has said Newton needs to rebuild his confidence after statistically his worst season since Carolina made him the first pick of the 2011 draft. Rivera doesn't plan to let Newton run as much this year to save him a beating.
Carolina's defense went from allowing 19.3 points per game in 2015 to 25.1 last year. Management clearly messed up by letting Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman walk in free agency after rescinding his franchise tag (that may have partly been why GM Dave Gettleman his job this week). Although if we are being honest, the Panthers were probably due a major regression regardless. Sometimes taking one step back for a year can be a good thing for a franchise in terms of trimming some fat/salary, adding draft picks, potentially getting an easier schedule and regaining that hunger. I doubt this is a 6-10 last-place team in the NFC South again. I don't think it's a Super Bowl team, though.
Carolina was 2-6 on the road last season, 3-4-1 against the spread and 5-3 "over/under." The Panthers travel to three playoff teams in 2017: New England, Detroit and Atlanta. Only one game west of New Orleans. The road schedule is tougher than at home in my opinion. I project a 3-5 record. Odds listed for the home team.
Sept. 10 at 49ers ( +4.5, 49 ): This is the only West Coast game of the season for Carolina and its only scheduled 4:25 p.m. ET start time. Levi's Stadium is where the Panthers lost to Denver in Super Bowl 50. It marks the sixth time in seven seasons that a Rivera-coached team has been on the road for Week 1.Carolina routed San Francisco 46-27 in Week 2 last year. Newton threw for 353 yards and four TDs. Key betting trend: Panthers 3-5-2 ATS in past 10 at NFC West teams.
Oct. 1 at Patriots (-9): Panthers off a Week 3 matchup vs. New Orleans, and I believe will be 3-0. It was conceivable that Carolina could have opened at the defending Super Bowl champion for a second year in a row. The Panthers were considered for the Kickoff Game again vs. New England, but that would have been unfair. Carolina won the last meeting with the Pats 24-20 in Charlotte in 2013. I remember that Monday night game. Key betting trend: Panthers 6-4 ATS in past 10 as a road dog of at least 7 points.
Oct. 8 at Lions (-2): First of three dome games, also including division rivals New Orleans and Atlanta. It's Carolina's first visit to Detroit since 2011, when the Lions scored 49 points against the Panthers in Rivera's first season as coach. That's still the most given up by a Rivera team. Key betting trend: Panthers 7-2 ATS all time as a road dog of 2 points or fewer (last 2013).
Oct. 22 at Bears (+1.5): Carolina on extra rest after hosting Philadelphia on Thursday in Week 6. Return to the Windy City for future Hall of Fame defensive end Julius Peppers, who left the Panthers after the 2009 season to go to Chicago. He had four good years there. Key betting trend: Panthers 4-6 ATS in past 10 at NFC North.
Oct. 29 at Bucs (-2.5): Matchup of Heisman winners, national champions and former No. 1 overall picks in Newton and Jameis Winston. Carolina closed last season with a 17-16 loss in Tampa. The Panthers pulled within the final score on Newton TD pass with five seconds left, but with nothing to play for they went for 2 and it was incomplete. Newton completed 18 of 32 passes for 237 yards, but was intercepted three times. Key betting trend: Panthers 5-3 ATS at Bucs as a dog.
Nov. 26 at Jets (+3): Panthers out of their bye week - as if they need extra time to prepare for the sorry Jets.The Jets have won three out of six games in their history against Carolina, and two have been in East Rutherford. Not this year. Key betting trend: Panthers 3-6-1 ATS in past 10 as road favorite of at least 3 points.
Dec. 3 at Saints (-2.5): The Panthers' secondary problems were on display in Week 6 last year at the Superdome as Carolina lost 41-38. The Saints had 523 yards of offense and 460 through the air. Newton passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 2-yard score and threw a 2-point conversion to Devin Funchess that tied the game at 38 with 2:58 left. Key betting trend: Panthers 8-2 ATS in past 10 as road dog in series.
Dec. 31 at Falcons (TBA): No early Week 17 lines posted. This comes after a three-game homestand for Carolina that concludes vs. Tampa Bay on Christmas Eve.This will be the fifth time the Panthers and Falcons have met in Week 17. Carolina has won three of the previous four, clinching division titles in the Georgia Dome in 2013 and 2014. The Panthers lost 48-33 in Atlanta in Week 4 last year as Matt Ryan and Julio Jones had historic days. Newton left the game in the fourth quarter with a concussion. Key betting trend: Panthers 3-7 ATS in past 10 in Atlanta.
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