The Carolina Panthers finished the 2015-16 season with a 15-1 regular season record surprising many people. The team was led by MVP quarterback Cam Newton who had a breakout season last year. This year the Panthers are expected to have another strong season.
The Panthers’ only regular season loss was to the Atlanta Falcons in week 16. They easily won their division and advanced to the playoffs with a first round bye. On the road to the Super Bowl, they beat the Seattle Seahawks 31-24 and dominated the Arizona Cardinals 49-15. In 2015, the Panthers had one of the best regular season records and scoring margins of all time.
“They came up short last season; they were completely capable of winning the Super Bowl,” junior Andrew Cox said.
Many North Carolinians share the same disappointment about how the season ended last year. In the Super Bowl the Panthers were the heavy favorites against the Denver Broncos. However, the Broncos defense had a brilliant game forcing many turnovers and third down stops.
The only significant loss to the Panthers roster approaching the 2016-17 season was cornerback Josh Norman. Norman is considered to be one of the best cornerbacks in the league with over 180 tackles, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles and two touchdowns across four seasons. Wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin will return to the Panthers roster this season after being out with a torn ACL all of last season.
The Panthers make up for their low budget cornerbacks with an outstanding set of defensive linemen and linebackers. The star of these seven being linebacker Luke Kuechly. In 2012, he was awarded rookie of the year and in 2013 he received Defensive Player of the Year. He has recorded over 600 tackles and 11 interceptions in four seasons with the Panthers.
“It will be tough for the Panthers secondary this season without Josh Norman,” junior Caitlin Casey said. “He was a lockdown defender against primary receivers last season.”
The Panthers were ranked number one in the ESPN NFL preseason rankings followed by the Arizona Cardinals who they beat by five touchdowns in their last meeting. Hopes are high for Panthers fans coming into the season.
“It does not usually happen that teams go from losing a Super Bowl and then returning the next season but it is not unheard of,” English teacher Stephanie Walters said. “I think the Panthers have the potential to win but they need to work hard.”
Las Vegas shows the Panthers having ten to one odds of winning the Super Bowl this upcoming season. They have an MVP quarterback, three all-star wide receivers, a devastating front seven defensive line and a Defensive Player of the Year linebacker. As long as they do not suffer many injuries, they are likely to have an outstanding season once again.
Photo from Carolina Panthers