Quarterback Sam Darnold was the centrepiece addition of the Carolina Panthers off season. The team is hoping he is the answer for improvement this year.
Head Coach Matt Rhule enters his second season on the sideline for the Carolina Panthers and will have a new Quarterback to work with under Centre. The Panthers went all in on Quarterback Sam Darnold, trading three draft picks to the New York Jets for the former 3rd overall pick in 2018. In three seasons in Gotham, Darnold had a 13-25 record as the Jets starter.
With Darnold calling the offence, that should be good news to Receiver Robbie Anderson, who was a favourite target of Darnold’s when the pair were members of the Jets. Darnold will also have DJ Moore, rookie Terrace Marshall Jr. and David Moore (via Seattle).
The franchise is coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons and feel now is the time for improvement in a weakened division.
Carolina Panthers Acquisitions and Moves
Acquiring Darnold was the centrepiece of the Panthers off season but the biggest addition to this roster is the return of star Running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey missed all but three games last year. The hope is that McCaffrey returns to 2019 form where he became the third player in NFL history to 1,000 rushing yards & 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. If he comes close to that mark, perhaps he’ll be in contention for Comeback Player of the Year. He’s currently listed at +675 to win that award just behind Dak Prescott +205, Joe Burrow +570 and Saquon Barkley +640. In this offence, McCaffrey will likely touch the ball 20+ times per game. Speedy rookie and Canadian Chuba Hubbard (drafted 4th round – 126 overall) will spell McCaffrey from time to time.
Last year’s starter Teddy Bridgewater was shipped to the Broncos for a draft pick but backups PJ Walker and Will Grier will serve behind Darnold.
The Panthers will be decent on defence and their newest addition should strengthen the secondary. Carolina used their eighth-overall pick in this year’s draft to select cornerback Jaycee Horn. He is the son of former 12-year NFL wide receiver Joe Horn and likely to be a day one starter.
Carolina Panthers 2021 NFL Schedule
Carolina has the 7th-easiest (.472) slate this coming season. That’s based on opponents’ records from the previous year. They are matched up with the AFC East and NFC East with games in Dallas and Miami. Perhaps the toughest part of their schedule is near the end of the sked starting in week 15, where the team will travel to Buffalo followed by home games against the Buccaneers and Saints and finally wrap up the year in Tampa.
Interesting enough, Sam Darnold will make his regular-season Panthers debut against the team that brought him into the league on September 12.
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 12 vs. New York Jets, 1 p.m
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 19 vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 23 at Houston Texans, 8:20 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 3 at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 10 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct.17 vs. Minnesota Vikings, 1:00 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 24 at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 31 at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 7 vs. New England Patriots, 1:00 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 14 at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 21 vs. Washington Football Team, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 28 at Miami Dolphins, 1:00 p.m.
Week 13: Bye Week
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 12 vs. Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 19 at Buffalo Bills, TBA
Week 16: Sunday Dec. 26 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 2 vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
Week 18: Sunday, Jan. 9 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
Carolina Panthers NFL Betting Odds
The Panthers are paying +1111 to win the NFC South and +227 make the playoffs, which is a bet I would not recommend. Their over/under win total is listed at 7.5 wins. Both the under and over are paying -111. They are also one of biggest longshots on the board of any division, paying +2700 to win the NFC South. The Panthers are +6100 to win the Super Bowl. Only eight teams have higher odds in this category.
Carolina Panthers 2021 Season Prediction
The Super Bowl champion Buccaneers reside in the NFC South but after that its wide open. However, the likelihood of two teams from that division making the post season is slim. Over the course of an 18-game schedule this Panthers team could show signs of progress with an eight-win season, but I don’t see the eight wins. Pencil the Panthers for a 7-11 season.