Lost: WR Ted Ginn, CB Leonard Johnson, LB AJ Klein, T Mike Rimmers, RB Mike Tolbert
Added: S Mike Adams, WR Charles Johnson, T Matt Kalil, CB Captain Munnerlyn, DE Julius Peppers, WR Russell Shepard
Drafted: RB Christian McCaffrey, WR Curtis Samuel, T Taylor Moton, DE Daeshon Hall, CB Corn Elder, FB Alexander Armah, K Harrison Butker
Why they’ll lose to the Eagles
The Panthers offense was mediocre last year, and in addition to Cam Newton being another year battered behind his offensive line, their only real additions on offense are a pair of rookies. If they’re counting on a bounce back season by their returning offensive players, they’re probably out of luck. Devin Funchess was the same player in 2016 as he was in 2015, so there is no bouncing back and little reason to expect him to suddenly be good. Kelvin Benjamin’s only seasons where he wasn’t hurt were losing ones. The ageless Greg Olsen is another year older and had a really good season in 2016, so there’s no reason to expect improvement from him, but reason to anticipate decline.
On defense, the Panthers were better than they seemed. Top 10 in DVOA, sack rate, interception percentage, and rushing yards per attempt. There’s room to improve, particularly in the secondary, but a big improvement that could make them a different team than last year is unrealistic.
Why they’ll beat the Eagles
Cam Newton is excellent, and excellent QBs don’t have back to back down years. Coming off the best year of his career in 2015, Newton had the worst of his career in 2016. There’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll return to his 2011-2014 form, and that’s the difference between a mediocre offense and a dangerous one.
On defense, the Panthers struggled to replace Josh Norman, but the 24 starts by 2nd round pick James Bradberry and 3rd round pick Daryl Worley give them a lot of experience to make the second year leap that many players take. Julius Peppers had at least 7 sacks in each of his seasons in Green Bay, despite being 37 it seems he still has something left in the tank. In the “every little bit helps” department, if Graham Gano or his potential replacement Harrison Butker can improve upon Gano’s 78.9 field goal percentage, the Panthers will do better than 2-5 in games decided by 3 points or less.
Lastly, this game is in Carolina on a Thursday night, and Thursday night games can be hideous.
Who wins the Eagles-Panthers game?
This poll is closed