Tha Sports Junkies 101

A Preview Of The New Look Panthers

New Look Panthers Tammy Anthony Baker via


Previewing The New Look Panthers

It’s here! It’s finally here! The NFL season is finally upon us and the anticipation couldn’t be higher. Week 1 gives us a preview of the new look Panthers.

The Carolina Panthers are licking their chops considering they get to test out their new offensive weapons against the 49ers on Sunday. However, I’m sure Navarro Bowman doesn’t plan to allow too many high fives on the Panthers bench.

Who Can Help Cam Rebound?

The person that Bowman, along with anyone watching, will be focusing on is the slimmer version of Cam Newton. Cam, who’s coming off his worst season since 2011 and shoulder surgery, is looking to get back to MVP form. Carolina has given him some new toys to test out and I’m sure he’s ready to play with them.

One of which is Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers first-round selection in this year’s draft. The NCAA all-time leader in all-purpose yards has shown that if you give him the ball, he will make plays. One way he will help is giving Cam a great underneath option on 3rd downs. Last year, the Panthers were a measly 37% on the 3rd downs which was good for 23rd in the league. If these new look Panthers have any success this year, McCaffrey will be a big part of it.

The biggest part will be because Cam Newton and Kelvin Benjamin were terrorizing opposing secondaries. Last year, Cam had the lowest completion percentage of his career at 52.9%. Combine that with a 75.8 QB-rating, which is also the lowest of his career, and you get a really bad season. Although 7 of Cam’s touchdowns were to Benjamin, the two will need to be even sharper to compete in a division that’s getting better each year. Benjamin, who came into camp overweight, has now proven that he’s ready for the season. He not only dropped the weight but he’s also dedicating this season to his mom who passed earlier this year.

Is The Defense Better?

The heart and soul of this Panthers team has been the defense, but if this team wants to get back to being kings of the NFC, they have to be better than last year. The Panthers ranked 21st in the NFL in total defense last year and 29th against the pass. What makes this so bad is that the Panthers had a great pass rush as they were 2nd in the NFL in sacks.

This clearly shows a huge weakness in the secondary which continues to be a sore spot for the Panthers. The loss of Josh Norman hurt them last year and they can’t afford to go through the same struggles this year. Carolina brought in veteran Mike Adams to team up with Kurt Coleman at safety but corner is still a question mark after losing Bene Benwikere. All the pressure will be on James Bradberry and Daryl Worley to control the outside.

49ers Not To Be Overlooked

The Niners come in with a new coach in Kyle Shannahan, who’s coming off a Super Bowl meltdown. They also added new quarterback Brian Hoyer, whom nobody is jumping for joy over. One offseason highlight is Solomon Thomas, who they selected third overall in this year’s draft. A defense that’s led by Navarro Bowman will always give opposing teams something to think about.

 So Will The New Look Panthers Win?

All in all, this should be a great week for the Panthers to see what kind of team they are going to be this year. The Niners have made changes but they are still one of the worst teams in football. If the Panthers want to contend again this year, they can’t lose to San Francisco in week one.

Prediction: 27-13 Panthers