As I mentioned in the preseason thread, I didn’t see one of these this year, so here goes…
Last season: 7-8-1 (NFC South champs!)
After winning the NFC South for the 2nd straight year (7-8-1 baby!) the Panthers went all in on Cameron Newton (and what choice did they have?) and promptly surrounded him with possibly the worst receiving corp in history. Sure, they didn’t know the Kelvin Benjamin would tear his ACL. Yes, Greg Olsen is a very good receiving TE. But… holy cow. I don’t know if one of their WRs would start on another team. Bad times.
Their biggest weakness in the off-season was Left Tackle. So they went and got … Michael Oher? He’s actually had a good pre-season, but…uh-oh.
I do like what I have seen from late-round draft pick CA Payne. Bruiser. Insurance for when Jonathan Stewart gets hurt. And he will.
They should be solid on defense with one of the best 3 linebacker squads in the league. The secondary should be improved and the D line will be solid, especially when Star Lotulolei gets healthy.
They will need to win a lot of close games. They don’t have the weapons to come back from a big deficit.
The first 4 games are winnable, then they have very tough 2nd 4-game stretch. The 2nd half of the season isn’t too bad.
I think the Falcons may be the team to beat in the South, but really, there are no juggernauts there, so there is hope.
My guess is they go 9 - 7 and win the division for the 3rd straight year.