The Panthers will win the Super Bowl
In 2015, the Carolina Panthers came within one win of a Super Bowl victory and through two games in the 2016 season, they are my favorites.
On their way to last year’s Super Bowl, the Panthers possessed the 11th-ranked offense and a 6th-ranked defense.
This season, the Panthers have the third-best offense behind Cam Newton, and they also got a huge addition in wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was injured all of last season.
So far this season, Benjamin has 199 yards and three touchdowns. His massive 6-foot-5 frame makes him an ideal end-zone target for Newton. Not to mention, they can take some pressure off of Benjamin because teams will have to worry about tight end Greg Olsen, who is also listed at 6–5.
The only person they really lost on the offense was wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery, whose production should be easily replaced by Devin Funchess, Tedd Ginn Jr. or Corey Brown.
Despite losing a key piece in cornerback Josh Norman on the defensive side, the Panthers still boast the seventh-ranked defense.
Through the air, Carolina has only allowed 198 yards per game and have forced a league-high four interceptions. They have also scored on three occasions this year.
Carolina’s ground defense hasn’t been as dominant as last year’s so far, but most of the yards they gave up was to the Denver Broncos’ C.J. Anderson. In the next game, they allowed only 65 yards total to Carlos Hyde and the San Francisco 49ers.
Now, I don’t expect the Panthers to win 15 games like last season, but the only real challenge they’ll face in the NFC South is from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who are likely a couple of years from contending.
Carolina has the 12th-hardest schedule, according to the NFL’s strength of schedule, which isn’t too bad considering they are technically playing a division-winner’s schedule.
There toughest remaining games are the Arizona Cardinals, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Seattle Seahawks and two games against the Buccaneers.
During the playoffs last year, the Panthers destroyed the Cardinals and Carson Palmer hasn’t looked the same since. The Chiefs have looked like a shell of themselves this year and Seattle is dealing with injuries to Russell Wilson.
The Bucs are good, but Jameis Winston is still too unpolished to lead his team to victory against the Panthers.
The combination of a top-10 offense and defense will be too much for opponents. Newton has been a dynamic playmaker and will continue to improve, especially now that Benjamin is back.