As of June 2021, the Carolina Panthers sit at a 7.5-game Over/Under for 2021, per the BetOnline Sportsbook. And with a new quarterback in Sam Darnold plus franchise stability, the Panthers can easily swipe their Over/Under this season.
However, there are a few downsides. For one, they’re only in Year 2 of this long rebuild. And per the usual, Brady and the Bucs and the New Orleans Saints will stand in their way within the division. And that does not include a rather tough schedule of common opponents.
So yeah, the Panthers have their work cut out for them, as you will soon find out from today’s post. But if you’re considering placing an Over/Under bet on the Carolina Panthers and aren’t sure what to do, keep reading to find out why they’re good for the Over, but also why they may be a wise bet for the Under.
State of the Carolina Panthers
Matt Rhule is only in his second season as head coach. But he’s a proven commodity at the college ranks who has revitalized 2 programs, those being Baylor and Temple. Predictably, Rhule’s Panthers struggled in 2020 but they’re, at least on paper, far better off in 2021.
For one, Christian McCaffrey returns to full strength. And for another, Sam Darnold has limitless potential to be the franchise quarterback. Say what you will about Darnold, who was a bust in New York. But the guy never had a chance with the instability and mediocre talent surrounding him.
Even Aaron Rodgers would have struggled with what the Jets forced Darnold to work with as a member of the Jets.
D.J. Moore, Dan Arnold, and Robbie Anderson make for a tremendous trio of pass-catchers. And in 2020, the Panthers improved their offensive line. Now, they have Cam Erving and Pat Elflein joining their ranks, 2 solid despite being unspectacular players.
Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos enter their second seasons and will anchor the line. Denzel Perryman and Haason Reddick also join the Panthers, both of whom have made noise in the league. Especially Reddick, who is coming off a 12.5-sack season.
Jaycee Horn was the team’s first-round draft pick in a surprising move, as many thought the Panthers would stick to offense. But he will become the team’s top corner sooner than later. And it always helps with someone like A. J. Bouye coming over to show the top rook the ropes.
Strengths of the Carolina Panthers
Christian McCaffrey is ready to reclaim his spot as the team’s centerpiece. One of the game’s most dynamic players, McCaffrey will pick up where he left off in 2019, with 2020 acting as a washout because of injuries.
The formidable D.J. Moore and deep threat in Robbie Anderson finally give Sam Darnold a legit pair of receiving options. Something limited during his time in New York. And do not underrate the potentially lethal tight end duo of Dan Arnold and Ian Thomas.
The Panthers will probably ride their offense in 2021, with Joe Brady acting as one of the league’s hottest commodities at offensive coordinator. No, the Panthers did not wow on offense in 2020, but they lacked stability at quarterback, with Teddy Bridgewater proving to the team he is what he’s always been: a backup.
At least since his knee injury back in 2016.
Darnold is a different story. He’s shown flashes of excellence with one of the NFL’s worst franchises. Now, he teams with Brady, who barring an unforeseen catastrophe, will remain in Charlotte for quite some time. With Pro Bowl-caliber talent around him on offense, expect him and Brady to improve.
Weaknesses of the Carolina Panthers
The defense remains young. While the offense is the team’s clear strength, the defense is still a work in progress, so expect further growing pains early in the season. In 2020, the group allowed 402 points or 25.1 points per game.
This can’t happen in Year 2 for the team to best their Over/Under. But with so much youth on defense and mediocrity coming in, the odds are greater than the Panthers will again allow 400-plus points.
The Panthers will start a few second-year players on defense, plus one rookie. As for the veterans that they signed, all of whom have underachieved either throughout their NFL careers or recently.
Denzel Perryman has never lived up to his billing as a second-round pick. Haason Reddick is thus far a one-year-wonder. Remember, he was fighting for a roster spot last season in Arizona and only broke out when Chandler Jones went down with a biceps injury.
Bouye was terrible during his lone season in Denver and played just 7 games. He will mentor Jaycee Horn, but odds are, he will also put all the pressure to succeed on Horn as well. It’s not a good combo among the corner situations in Carolina.
And we still don’t know how proven the coaching staff is. Rhule, unlike Urban Meyer in Jacksonville, brought many people in from the college ranks. Meyer, knowing he’d need help to figure things out in the NFL, wisely hired a staff with experience.
The Panthers won just 5 games in 2020. If they begin the season on a sour note, such as 1-5 or 0-6, Rhule won’t stick around to see the end of the season.
And considering the lack of talent on defense, despite the talent on offense, it’s realistic that Rhule and his staff will meet this fate.
Schedule of the Carolina Panthers
The Panthers do not have an easy schedule. Even their uncommon opponents, who are the Minnesota Vikings, Arizona Cardinals, and Houston Texans, will give them a run. Okay, so they should beat the Texans. But they’re light years behind the Vikings and Cardinals talent-wise.
The Texans can always get that upset win over the Panthers, so expect a floor of 0-3 here and a ceiling of 1-2. Arizona and Minnesota are just too good.
Common opponents include the NFC East and AFC East. The Panthers can easily drop the 5 games to playoff contenders, who are the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Dallas Cowboys, and Washington.
They look like the better football team against the New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles. The wildcard is the New York Giants, with whom they match evenly on paper. Expect a floor of 2-6, with the team going down against each playoff contender and losing to the Giants.
However, they can eke out a win against a contender if they play their cards right, along with stealing one from the Giants. So it’s realistic to think that their ceiling rests at 4-4.
In the NFC South, the Panthers look stronger only than the Falcons. When the latter cuts ties with Julio Jones, they will hold a distinct advantage. They can easily sweep the Falcons, and can even take one from their stronger division rivals in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
Look for a ceiling of 3-3, with a sweep of the Falcons and a win against either Tampa or New Orleans. However, they face a floor of 1-5, which involves a split against the Falcons and sweeps against the Bucs and Saints.
Are the Carolina Panthers Poised to Best Their Over in 2021?
They can, but they must score a few upsets and win games against teams they match well against. This means beating the Texans, Jets, Falcons (twice), Giants, and Eagles. However, even if they do this and lose to teams that look better on paper, they finished 6-11, and 1.5 games under their Over/Under.
Therefore, they must score an upset either against a playoff contender, an uncommon opponent, or a division rival. Like their rival the Atlanta Falcons, the Carolina Panthers can best their Over in 2021, but as to whether to place your bet on the Over or Under depends more on your wagering style than anything else.
If you bet conservatively and you’re considering the Panthers, odds are, you’ll take the Under because the odds of reaching their Over in 2020 are lower in Year 2 of the rebuild. It can happen. It has happened to teams in the past, but it’s a risk to consider the Panthers for the Over.
The Carolina Panthers are building a beast down in NC. But they’re still ways off from becoming a lesser risk of an Over/Under bet if you’re looking for teams to bet the Over.
In 2021, they’re not quite where they need to be, especially with a tough schedule and tough division opponents in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
If the Panthers played an easier schedule in 2021, you’d see better odds of them cracking the Over. But they remain a longshot with the teams they’re playing and the talent level in which they sit.
What do you think about the Carolina Panthers? Are you one who will take the risk and bet the Over, or do you believe they’re still a better fit for the Under considering where they are in their rebuild coupled with the level of talent?