The Panthers start the season with match-ups against Jacksonville, Houston, New Orleans, and Tampa Bay. On the one-hand, that is a good way to start as none of these teams should strike fear into the heart of Panther Nation. But on the other-hand, there is the reality that the Panthers under Ron Rivera have traditionally started slowly (going 3-8-1 to start last year). If we drop games early, we will really be in a hole as the schedule turns more difficult later in the season. Below are some things to look for in each game and what the outcome will mean:
This has been a perpetually bad team for a long time, and if the Panthers don’t win, there will be no way to put a positive spin on it. I do anticipate the Jags to be better and the game will not be a cake-walk. Blake Bortles has looked good in the pre-season and rookie TJ Yeldon is a strong candidate for Offensive-Rookie Of The Year Award. Allen Robinson is an emerging WR that I liked very much coming out of college last year.
But at the end of the day, the Panthers should win this one and I anticipate our Defense to overwhelm the Jags young offense by the end of the game. I also anticipate that after a probable slow start, Cam and company will get things rolling by the end of the game. I’m predicting a 24-13 type of game.
Here’s a game that will test our Offensive Line. Our O-Line has been impressive in the preseason, and I can’t wait to see if that will translate to the regular season success. The Texans roll into town with the best player in the NFL in JJ Watt along with for SC Super Star Jadeveon Clowney and newly acquired bohemyth Vince Wilfork clogging up the middle. Make no mistake, that D-Line can take over a game so the Panthers had better be ready. But without Arian Foster, I don’t see the Texans scoring enough.
According to our friends at ProFootballFocus.com, the Houston Texans Offense has been atrocious in the preseason that they received a cumulative score of -103.1 which ranks as the 2nd worst of any team in the NFL (Pittsburgh was the worst) and to compare, the Panthers were listed at a -21. I see this as a 13-7 type of win for the Panthers.
New Orleans Saints-
This is an opportunity for the Panthers to remind everyone that the NFC South is ours and take a leg-up on our rival. This one makes me nervous as Drew has looked good in pre-seaon and with Brandin Cooks back, along with an improved Offensive Line, this game could be trouble. This is the most likely game for us to lose of the first three. But come on, did you really think I’d predict a Panthers loss to the Saints? Ha, no way. Panthers take this one 31-28.
Tampa Bay Bucs-
Then the Panthers go on the road to take on Famous Jameis and company. PFF.com has their Offense listed as a -73. I just see Winston struggling -mightily especially with their O-linemen fighting the injury bug. We’ll see, but I see another long year for the Bucs. Panthers go to 4-0 with a 13-9 win.
After the first four games, the schedule turns sour after a bye-week. We go to Seattle, then a three-game home stand against Philly, Indy and Green Bay. So we’d better start fast.
If our O-Line proves to be as good as they looked in preseason and if we can get the run game going like we did at the end of the year last year, we will be really tough to beat. I feel optimistic at this point. How about you? Leave a comment below and share your comments out via twitter by hitting the share button under your comment.
Posted by- Mel