2012 Carolina Panthers Betting Preview
Not many rookies have exploded onto the scene in the NFL like Cam Newton did last year for the Carolina Panthers. The Heisman Trophy winner proved all his doubters, including your humble correspondent, totally wrong, as he put up numbers never posted before by a rookie, and boosted Carolina into instant credibility. Now the objective is to build upon last year, get a little better core around their star QB, and try to make a run at the playoffs.
Last Season in Review
The Panthers started off last year with a couple of close losses, one at home to Green Bay in which they led into the third quarter. They got a win over Jacksonville but then lost three more close ones to the Bears, Saints and Falcons. Carolina then beat Washington, lost three more in a row, but ended the season by winning four of its last six to finish at 6-10.
In the end, six of the Panthers’ losses came by one score or less, and two others were close into the fourth quarter. Turn a couple of those games around and Carolina goes 8-8.
The Carolina Panthers ranked seventh in the league in offense last year at 390 YPG, and third in rushing at 151 YPG, as Newton tucked and ran for some big yardage.
On the other side of the ball, however, Carolina ranked 28th in defense, allowing 378 YPG, and 25th vs. the run, allowing 131 YPG on the ground.
So it’s almost amazing they still managed to rank 11th in total yardage at +12 YPG and 10th in total rushing at +20 YPG.
Around the league last year teams that outrushed their opponents covered the spread 69 percent of the time. Carolina went 9-7 ATS.
Also, as Panthers games averaged 52 points, fifth-most in the league, they played the totals 10-6.
Individually Newton completed 60 percent of his throws last year for 4,000 yards and a 21/17 TD/INT ratio, and ran for 700 yards and 14 TDs. The RB combo of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart combined for 1,600 yards and a five-plus YPC average; and WR Steve Smith grabbed 79 balls for almost 1,400 yards. So there is definitely talent at the skill positions here.
Over the off-season Carolina lost two of its top-five pass catchers from last year, a starting offensive lineman and a starting linebacker, while the only major acquisition was the signing of FB Mike Tolbert.
At the draft the Panthers used the No. 9 overall pick to take LB Luke Kuechly from Boston College, and the 40th pick to grab 320-pound OG Amini Silatolu. Not exactly a lot of excitement, but you can’t bring in a game-changer every year.
2012 Panthers Schedule
Carolina will play the 10th-toughest schedule in the league this season, based on last year’s W/L records. The Panthers have six games vs. teams that made the playoffs last year, plus games with the Cowboys, Bears, Eagles and Chargers. They open with the Bucs, but then go Saints-Giants-Falcons. After their bye they play Dallas and at Chicago, later have a Monday nighter at Philly, and finish with the Falcons, at San Diego, the Raiders and at New Orleans. So if Carolina is going to make an advance this season, they’ll have to do it against some pretty good competition.
2012 Carolina Panthers Betting Odds and Prediction
Bovada is listing Carolina at +500 to win the NFC South this season, 20/1 to win the NFC and 35/1 to win the Super Bowl, while Bookmaker is listing the Panthers with a wins ‘over/under’ of 7.5 (O -130/U even).
For their second season under Coach Rivera the main goal must be to improve the defense. Carolina gave up 28 points or more nine times last year, and even Newton couldn’t overcome that. We expect improvement on that side of the ball, and Carolina could well field a better product than last year, with a seemingly bright future ahead. But because the Panthers will have their hands full with a tough schedule we’re leaning toward the ‘under’ 7.5 wins for this season.