The Carolina Panthers will enter the 2019 NFL season looking to reclaim their spot atop the NFC South and more. After sitting out the Playoffs last season with a 7-9 mark, Cam Newton and team will be gunning for redemption. With Newton ready to roll and Christian McCaffrey and Greg Olson set to offer offensive assistance, the offense could be in tune for a 2015 type season stat-wise.
In order for the Panthers to make a jump with the elite teams, they will need the defense to step up. Even with Luke Kuechly in the middle, the Panthers were lacking a true pass rusher. With Gerald McCoy now in uniform, he may be the push the defense needs. The Panthers’ schedule is set up for them to have a great season as they will only face five teams who made the playoffs last season.
Here are 5 Bold Predictions for the Carolina Panthers in 2019
Cam Newton Will have Career Best Year
The Panthers will go only as far as Cam Newton takes them. While that is said about players like Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Philip Rivers, each of those QB’s have weapons surrounding them. Newton is almost on an island by himself. Christian McCaffrey is a solid player and will put up great numbers, but the Panthers’ receiving core is still not on an NFL level in terms of talent. Despite Greg Olsen’s contributions, he’s often injured leaving Newton throwing to second and third-tier players which have resulted in a decline in numbers.
In 2018, Newton passed for 3395 yards, 24 TDs, and 13 INTs. But what stood out the most was his 67.9 completion percentage. By far the highest of his career. If Newton can continue that trend this coming season, the sky is the limit for the Panthers. But just as dangerous as his vision has become through the air, his legs are still just as valuable. Last season, Newton rushed for 488 yards. While that’s low considering his previous years, that shows that Cam is learning to trust his teammates more.
Panthers Will Win NFC South
The NFC South over the years has remained one of the weirdest divisions in the NFL. It seems that each year, the crown goes to a different team. However, for the past five, the race has been between the Panthers and New Orleans Saints. With the Saints taking it last season, that means the Panthers, Atlanta Falcons or the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will earn it in 2020.
The Saints will take a step back. Despite their talent on offense, last season was their best chance for a long run. The Falcons just can’t find that chemistry and the Bucs, they have too many holes on both sides of the ball. The Panthers will finish the season 5-1 in the South with a split against the Saints. While anything can happen, the Panthers, if healthy, are just too strong to be over-taken for a second straight season.
Defense Will Be Top 5 In NFL
Give it time and it will all come together. After years of slipping, the Panthers have found a way back to their tradition. The team was built on defense from the early ’90s. While they have flirted with greatness, something was always holding them back. In 2019, it all comes together. Last season, they laid the foundation. The Panthers, led by the amazing Luke Kuechly finished 12th in rushing defense and 18th in passing yards allowed. While the secondary could use some improvement, it’s still the guys in the trenches that determines their success.
In a division where passing rules, this is the perfect test once they step out of the South. Running against Carolina is not the wisest decision. Those front seven is as strong as any in the league. Once the secondary masters the art of chemistry, watch out. All they’re missing is for a pass rusher to emerge and Gerald McCoy is ready to head that call
Christian McCaffrey Will Have A 2000 Yard Season
Last season, McCaffrey almost did it. With 219 carries out the backfield, the second-year back gained 1098 yards. With 107 receptions, he accounted for 867 yards. The Panthers don’t need McCaffrey to rush 30 times a game, but what they do need is for him to be on the field for 90 percent of the snaps. He’s a tough back who will get between the tackles but also has the speed to hit the corners.
When it comes to receiving, there are not many backs in the NFL with his hands. The Panthers’ offense is based on smash-mouth football which will out McCaffrey in a unique situation. The last back to rush and receive 1000 yards on the same season was Marshall Faulk in 1999. Those type of numbers will have McCaffrey in MVP talks.
DJ Moore Will Step Into Steve Smith Role
The time has come for DJ Moore to become what many expect him to be. The next Steve Smith. Those are huge shoes to fill but Moore could be just as dangerous. In his rookie season last year, Moore caught 55 passes for 788 yards but he did so while splitting time with Devin Funches and Torrey Smith. Now, viewed as the main option on the outside, Moore will get his touches and chances to put that blazing speed on display.
This is where the Panthers will need to open their offense up some. Instead of looking for the check down to McCaffrey or the safe outlet to Greg Olsen, Newton needs to let it fly on a Go Route or hit Moore in stride 10 yards deep the way Smith used to make his living. Moore gaining over 1000 yards should be easy. His targets will increase from the 82 he saw in 2018.