With the 2017-2018 NFL season only three days away I decided to do this Carolina Panthers season preview? Or A look ahead to the Carolina Panthers season or something like that. The Panthers took a step back last season going 6-10 after going 15-1 and making it to Super Bowl 50 in 2015. The Panthers made both some good and bad transitions this offseason. The good was Panthers brought back Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn and in my opinion, the entire draft class was an upgrade for the Panthers, getting two potential play makers in McCaffrey and Samuels, getting one of the best Guards in the draft with Tyler Moton; the Panthers really didn’t miss a step in the draft. The bad was firing former general manager Dave Gettleman which still is minding boggling to me and then hiring former Panthers GM Marty Hurney as Interim General Manager. But fortunately, he has done a decent job so far. Since I got that out of the way let’s get dive into the upcoming season and the key players/story lines to keep a close eye on.
The key players and storylines to keep a watch for are how will Cam Newton play this season after coming off shoulder surgery and having a disappointing follow-up season after winning MVP in 2015. How will the secondary hold up mainly will James Bradberry improve from an impressive rookie season or will he have a sophomore slump? How will Daryl Worley perform after having a terrible preseason? And will veteran safety Mike Adams who signed with the Panthers this off-season play? Can he still play at a high rate even when he’s getting up there in age? How will KK Short do after agreeing to a 5-year 80.5 million dollar deal this offseason, will he keep playing at a high level? Or will the decline since he got his big contract? Like KK how will defensive tackle Star Lotulelei play with him becoming an unrestricted free-agent after this season? Rounding out the defensive end is Julius Peppers, only signing a one-year deal and some are thinking that he will retire after this season, how will he play? Because he and Charles Johnson will be the anchor for Carolina at defensive end. Switching over to the offense side, the first key line is the offense line. The offense line needs to play like they did in 2015, Cam Newton can’t afford to take hits like he did last year. One certain player, I want to see how offensive tackle Matt Kalil play? Surely, he can be better than Mike Remmers was…right!? Next up is wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, both coming off a disappointing year last season. Benjamin was great in the preseason but Funchess is still a big question mark for the Panthers. How good will rookie running back Christian McCaffrey be? Lastly, who will win the kicking battle? Graham Gano or rookie Harrison Butker who has shined this preseason while Gano has struggled the past couple seasons. Both are getting trade
Looking at the 2017/2018 schedule (http://www.panthers.com/schedule/schedule.html) the Panthers will play 7 home games and 6 away games. Carolina will face off against 7 teams that had a .500 or better record last season while 4 of those 7 teams making the playoffs and two of them making the Super Bowl. Panthers will have one Monday night game in which they face off against Miami Dolphins and one Thursday night against the Philadelphia Eagles. The games that pop out for me are, 9/17 Buffalo Bills the return of former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott who is now the head coach of the Bills. Going to Boston to on 10/1 to face off against the Super Bowl 51 winners New England Patriots, I hope the Panthers kick their [email protected]% because I just hate Tom Brady. And 11/5 when Atlanta Falcons come to Bank of America Stadium, I’m sure Panthers fans will have a lot of things to say for the Falcons after blowing a 28-3 lead in Super Bowl 51. In an honestly, I believe the Panthers will go 9-6 this season and miss the playoffs. But I do believe Cam Newton will play much better than he did last year and McCaffrey will be very impressive. There are just too many question marks in the secondary and offensive line. I do hope they prove me wrong and oh I don’t know go 15-1 and make the Super Bowl.
That’s my season preview and key players/story lines that I’m going to keep a watch out for this upcoming season. Tell me in the comment section your predictions for the Panthers for this upcoming year and what are you looking forward to this upcoming season as well! Have a great day and make sure to check back here Friday for a weekly news update on the Hornets and Panthers!