Some are projecting the Carolina Panthers to be the worst team in football in 2020. While this is realistic given the lack of off-season practices coupled with a revamped roster, the Panthers have a better team than many believe.
With a proven quarterback, running back, and 3 budding receivers, the Panthers could outperform their 5.5 over-under win projection.
Despite their tougher schedule facing teams in the AFC West plus 3 division opponents who can throw all over them, there are reasons to believe in the Panthers.
From owning the NFL’s most dynamic player to head coach Matt Rhule’s knack for rebuilding teams, here are 4 reasons to consider wagering at NFL betting sites on the over for the Panthers in 2020.
1. The NFL’s Most Dynamic Player
Christian McCaffrey is the best player in the NFL and if the Panthers even eked out a playoff berth, he wins the MVP award hands down over the overrated Lamar Jackson.
Here are McCaffrey’s numbers in 2019:
- 116 receptions
- 1,008 receiving yards
- 4 touchdowns
- 287 rushes
- 1,387 rushing yards
- 15 touchdowns
That equals 2,395 all-purpose yards and 19 total touchdowns.
No, McCaffrey didn’t have quite the season a running back named LaDainian Tomlinson had back in 2006 when the latter scored 28 rushing touchdowns on his way to a rightful MVP season, but McCaffrey is probably the best pass-catching running back who has ever played the game.
The similarities between McCaffrey and Tomlinson are scary. Identical size. Both pass-catching backs who make a living at torching defenses. And at the same stage in their careers, both played for some bad football teams.
So, here comes McCaffrey with a legit quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, who comes to Charlotte after playing well in relief duty as a member of the New Orleans Saints. Yeah, Bridgewater had Michael Thomas, Alvin Kamara (another McCaffrey type of player), and some gadget players. He went 5-0 coming off the bench.
McCaffrey’s more dynamic than Thomas or Kamara. And Bridgewater proved he is still an excellent quarterback despite a few setbacks.
The first rule of law when considering betting on the Panthers: For every game Christian McCaffrey plays, the chance exists the Panthers walk away with the W.
2. The Bridge to the Pass Catchers
The Panthers own a dynamic receiving unit and while it starts with McCaffrey at running back, receivers D. J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, and Robby Anderson make up a three headed receiving trio as good as any in the NFL.
It starts with Moore, who even with Kyle Allen and Will Grier taking snaps in 2019 still logged 87 receptions for 1,175 yards, and 4 touchdowns.
Moore developed into one of the best receivers in football in 2019 and is only heading into his third season.
Anderson established himself as a deep threat with the New York Jets in 2019 after averaging 15 yards per reception on 52 catches.
Anderson also has an advantage given he played for Matt Rhule during their days at Temple.
Then there is Samuel, an underrated receiver many are labeling a bust given he has yet to play to his potential. But he still logged 54 receptions for 627 yards and 6 touchdowns, scoring more than any other receiver in Carolina in 2019. Samuel’s floor in the NFL is at slot receiver.
If Bridgewater picks up where he left off after his 5 starts in 2019 in relief of Drew Brees, this team can win games they otherwise wouldn’t have won in 2019. And they don’t have a long way to go to begin with.
3. Matt’s Rhule of Law
Matt Rhule never coached in the NFL as a head coach, so this is new ground. But he turned around 2 struggling programs at the college level in Temple and Baylor, building them into contenders.
He returned Baylor to a powerhouse level and Temple, back into a team who could contend for a conference championship and subsequent quality bowl game berths.
And if there is someone already putting in the building blocks to rebuild the Panthers, it is Rhule.
He also brought in proven talents at offensive line in John Miller, Russell Okung, and Michael Schofield to improve the offensive line.
These additions come along with talented holdovers from the previous regime who we discussed earlier like McCaffrey and Moore.
While Rhule doesn’t look to emulate the college game in the NFL, something failed coaches like Chip Kelly tried and (predictably) flamed out doing, he is tearing down most of what the previous regime left and is adding proven talent.
Flip to the defense, where the Panthers spent a first and second-round pick on the line with Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos to go along with 2019 first-round pick Brian Burns, who logged 7.5 sacks in his rookie season.
Another talent Rhule added to the defense is Tahir Whitehead, who logged 100-plus tackles over the last 4 seasons. Two more rookies may start in the defensive backfield in second-round pick Jeremy Chinn and fourth-round pick Troy Pride Jr.
Overall, Rhule is setting out to do the same thing as he did when rebuilding his college football programs.
Often, rebuilding teams face a growing pain season or two, but you must like the talent they already have with McCaffrey and Moore to go with talents like Bridgewater, who is an immediate upgrade over Kyle Allen, and Anderson, who provides a legit deep threat.
This Panthers team may open some eyes in 2020, despite divisional foes like Atlanta and New Orleans.
4. Dates with Detroit and Washington
One of the major upsides about being a basement team is the fact they get to play other basement dwellers from the previous season. This year, it is two franchises in turmoil: The Detroit Lions, and the Washington Football Team, an organization that is changing everything.
With a historically poor defense that almost topped the 2008 squad’s total yards allowed to potential uncertainty at quarterback depending on how Matthew Stafford’s back fares.
While the Lions made a few improvements, the Ford family who owns the team is clear on expectations in 2020 and head coach Matt Patricia may find himself out the door before the Panthers even face the Lions.
Then there is Washington, who has a new coach, to-be-announced in 2021 nickname, and an entire culture change (supposedly) from top to bottom in the organization. One of the NFL’s oldest franchises will look like an expansion football team.
Well, sort of like a 1995 Cleveland Browns-1996 Baltimore Ravens type of expansion franchise to an extent. The same players from a season ago fill the roster of this team, but given the new coaching staff, sweeping changes, and the looming nickname.
Washington has their strengths at the offensive and defensive lines and a delightful mix of young players, experienced players, and veterans. But they have potential turmoil at quarterback and one of the league’s oldest running backs.
Anything can happen here, but even a team facing a complete roster makeover like the Panthers, who also have a new coach and system in place, are farther ahead than the Washington team.
Good news for you or any bettor looking to take a chance on the Panthers 5.5 over-under win projection.
The Panthers figure to be a bad football team in 2020 considering a revamped roster, a new coach, a new system, and everything new. But, unlike most teams who undergo such changes, the Panthers added talent and proven players rather than stopgaps.
They also blended the signing of quality free agents well with drafting future stars, including a couple drafted within the past two seasons in D. J. Moore and Brian Burns.
It is never a guarantee that any team will eclipse an over-under, but you must like what you can see from the Panthers, even if you shouldn’t bet on them to be in the playoffs in 2020 unless you like high stakes.
Betting to eclipse an over-under? Now that’s a different story. Do you think the Panthers can leap over their projection or will the challenge be too much for Carolina? Let us know.