The Carolina Panthers are a week away from their regular season opener against the San Francisco 49ers. The Panthers had a disappointing season last year: After reaching Super Bowl 50 the previous season, they had a 6-10 record and finished in fourth place in the NFC South.
Here are three predictions for the Panthers this season.
#3. Derek Anderson will start at least two games
Cam Newton is not going to get benched, but his physical style of play will lead to an injury that will knock him out of a couple games. Newton is a very durable. He has missed only three games in his six-year NFL career, but has taken a lot of hits. His body has taken a lot of punishment and at some point it will catch up to him.
It has been well-documented that he has taken a lot bigger hits than most quarterbacks. It has sparked a debate about how much protection referees do not give him compared to other quarterbacks.
Regardless of the legality of the hits he has taken, he has taken a lot of them, some that perhaps should have taken him out of the game for a play or two or more.
Anderson is his backup. The 34-year-old has started a few games in the NFL with varied success, but is capable of holding down the fort for two games to make sure Newton is healthy.
#2. The Panthers will allow the most passing yards in the league
The Panthers allowed the 29th most passing yards in the league last season. They went into the season with several rookies and very little experience at cornerback. It was disastrous as opposing quarterbacks were able to rack up 268.2 yards per game.
This offseason, they signed Captain Munnerlyn, but no one else. He is expected to remain the slot starter, a role he perfected with the Vikings. James Bradberry showed some good things last season as a rookie, but they will still struggle to stop opposing quarterbacks again this season.
There just isn’t enough talent on the back end to stop some of the prolific passing attacks in the NFC South. The Panthers will get torched through the air again this season.
#1. The Panthers will finish third in the NFC South division
The Panthers will be better this season than they were last year, but will still miss the playoffs as the third place team in the NFC South. The Panthers will finish the season strong winning five of their last eight games.