NFL Betting: 2013 Carolina Panthers Preview

In 2013, the landscape looks a lot like 2012 for the Carolina Panthers. Cam Newton is an immensely gifted quarterback… who will once again operate on an island with little help. Here’s an NFL betting preview of the 2013 Panthers.

Best Offseason Move:

The Panthers didn’t do a whole lot to improve their team in the offseason. What would probably qualify as their best move is their first-round draft selection of defensive tackle Star Lotulelei from the University of Utah. Lotulelei dropped down the draft board due to health concerns, but the Panthers did need to find a run-stuffer in the middle of their defensive line, and Lotulelei made perfect sense. If he can get into shape – and now that he’s a professional athlete instead of a collegiate one, he’ll have all the time he needs to work on his body – he’ll be a highly valuable performer for the organization for years to come. It was worth taking a chance on Lotulelei’s health in order to gain the possible upside that comes with his noticeable talents as a gap-filler in the interior portion of a defensive front.

Worst Offseason Move:

The Panthers just didn’t help out Newton, their franchise player and the most recognizable athlete in the organization. In the NFL, great quarterbacks have to be aided by skill-position talent they can trust. Carolina, under head coach Ron Rivera, has not done what has been needed to give Newton a more skilled set of teammates on offense. The analytical website Walter Football put the matter plainly in its offseason assessment of the Panthers: “Carolina has just two legitimate receiving targets: Steve Smith and Greg Olsen. The latter is coming off a nice season (69 catches, 843 yards, five touchdowns) in which he had an expanded role in the wake of Jeremy Shockey’s departure. Smith is a different story, however. He was brilliant in 2011, but dropped off a bit this past season, snagging just four touchdowns and seeing his yards-per-reception figure drop by 1.5 yards. Smith turned 34 in May, so his skills will disappear soon – perhaps even this year.

“The Panthers have to find a future top wideout soon. Their No. 2 receiver right now, Brandon LaFell, caught 44 balls for 677 yards and four touchdowns in 2012. LaFell probably shouldn’t be a starter in this league, as he struggles to get separation. The problem is that Carolina doesn’t have anyone else turn to. The team will have to make the receiver position one of its top priorities next spring.”

In this offseason, the Panthers added Domenik Hixon and Ted Ginn and football betting fans know that that lone just won’t cut the mustard. Neither player is a top-end receiver, with Ginn being more of a kick returner who might chip in as a pass catcher in four-wide formations. Carolina did not rise to the occasion in this respect, and that’s why this offense is likely to struggle once again.

How They’ll Finish In The Division:

The Panthers will find it just about impossible to fight past the New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons this season. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have probably done more than the Panthers to get better. This means a last-place finish and a losing record in Charlotte, N.C.

Prediction: 5-11

Super Bowl Odds: +3800

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