The Carolina Panthers started off the 2021-22 NFL campaign as one of the league’s hottest teams through Week 3. As we’ve seen in previous years, however, there should never be too much stock in one team too early.
Finishing with a calamitous 5-12 record and last in the NFC South, many believed that Matt Rhule would be relieved of his duties, following 23 total losses in two seasons. Instead, it appears the 47-year-old head coach has retained his “rule” within the organization. He fired his offensive coordinator Joe Brady back in early December, and will likely be on a thorough search for a new quarterback this offseason. Sam Darnold, nor mid-season acquisition Cam Newton were the answer.
The Panthers will also be busy with the free-agent market. They have 19 unrestricted free agents that hit the field this offseason. Among those include their top edge rusher on defense Haason Reddick, starting cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle DaQuan Jones. They could also be without key offensive linemen Matt Paradis, Trenton Scott and John Miller.
Let’s take a look at Carolina’s chances in 2022.
Super Bowl odds: +5000
The Panthers are not exactly zeroing in on a Super Bowl appearance next year. They have no shortage of boxes to check this offseason to at least return them to playoff conversation once again. Christian McCaffrey’s injury history has been a major thorn in the Panthers’ side, and there’s no telling if his usage in the offense will ever be the same. Even so, the offense has other talent that can help balance out the attack, to go along with a defense that kept them in a lot of games last season.
Conference odds: +2200
The NFC has a lot of strong competitors currently ahead of the Panthers, and possess more talent on their rosters. It will take some serious movement and a splash in free agency for this team to be a conference threat.
Division odds: +500
The NFC South was essentially a Tampa Bay Buccaneers cakewalk in the 2021-22 season. They finished four games ahead of the rest of the pack. With Tom Brady’s retirement, however, and each team experiencing overhauls of their own; This division is entirely up for grabs. The Panthers’ odds are actually quite fair here. They haven’t shown us much recently, but they could turn into the biggest sleeper to be a division winner if all goes well leading up to Week 1.
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