NFC SOUTH 2016 PREVIEW
August 27th, 2016
The don’t do it with a lot of different playmakers or big plays for that matter, but the
Carolina Panthers led by Cam Newton will systematically beat opposing defenses into submission again this season. The Panthers aren’t getting nearly as much love as they should be in pre-season assessments, but you’re looking at the defending NFC Champions in a conference loaded with multiple big-time teams. The Panther’s obliterated every team they faced last season aside from one game against Atlanta and the best defense in the league in Denver in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers have lost no play-makers on the offensive side of the football, and are entering this season with a winning pedigree, and one more year of successful experience under their belt.
The Panthers have been know to eek out games and lose against teams they shouldn’t lose, but last year was much different as they put it all together. Expect opposing defenses to rise up a little better this season, but for the Panther offense to submit the majority of their opposing defenses.
Don’t expect the loss of Josh Norman to impact this defense in any way. Norman is an elite talent, but is also a product of a perfectly executed and well-coached defensive system designed to take pressure off the secondary. Norman walked into a great situation and didn’t mess it up, proving he could play at a high level. The secondary is deep but inexperienced as the Panthers will be rolling out three rookies to start the season. The front seven including Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly is still the bread and butter of this defense, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Kelvin Benjamin returns to action this season after playing ZERO games in 2015. The 2014 first round pick out of Baylor had a great rookie campaign and there’s no reason to think that a more experienced Cam Newton won’t be able to get Benjamin the ball more this season. Benjamin changes the face of this offense, but even if he doesn’t the Panthers still roll out the same roster they did when they made the Super Bowl. Look for Benjamin to get a ton of volume until he proves he can’t handle it.
Ted Ginn Jr. provides a great security blanket for Cam Newton. Ginn Jr. can run deep patterns, has improved hands and route running ability and his speed is still good enough to take advantage of inexperienced corner backs. He’s good on every down, and every team will be focused on Benjamin, Greg Olsen and the running game. The Panthers are so deep offensively at every position, but Ginn Jr. will prove to have equal or more value than most.
There are no sleepers on this offense. Since they are the same as they’ve been, you know what you are getting. Players like Devin Funchess, and Cameron Artis-Payne will have value on if injuries to the starter occur. Greg Olsen is a top 5 TE every week, but will lose volume to Benjamin, so buyer-beware. Cam Newton, could be the best fantasy QB this season combined in the air and on the ground. And the Carolina defense is a DEF/ST worth owning.
The Panthers have to go to Oakland and Seattle in consecutive weeks, so it will be interesting to see if they stay out West for those two games. Both games will be great barometers for where the Panthers stand. They get Arizona at home, and have to travel to Washington as well. Four tough games no doubt, snuggled by an otherwise easy schedule. They get Minnesota at home, but should be able to hang. 13-3 seems like a reasonable record if they stay healthy and don’t have any hiccups against bad teams. Last year’s single loss is setting the bar pretty high, so a regular season digression should be expected, but 13-3 is still #1 seed and home field advantage worthy.
The Carolina Panthers are a -3.0 point Road Favorite vs. the defending Super Bowl Champions Denver Broncos. Get all of your point spread stats at ATS STATS.