Carolina Panthers NFL Betting Preview: Following the Golden Rhule

Posted on: September 2, 2020, 05:53h. 

Last updated on: September 3, 2020, 11:23h.

The Carolina Panthers were a team with no fangs last season. They finished 5-11 and in last place in the NFC South. Aside from running back Christian McCaffrey, the offense was a punchless bunch, with quarterback Cam Newton missing most of the season with an injured foot. Defensively, it finished next-to-last in points allowed.

Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater
In 34 career starts with the Vikings and Saints, new Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is 22-12. (Image: Jim Dedmon/USA TODAY Sports)

General manager Marty Hurney made massive changes during the off-season, starting with the hiring of Matt Rhule as coach.

Offensively, Hurney acquired four presumed starters, including quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, receiver Robby Anderson, and offensive linemen Russell Okung and John Miller.

Hurney signed three more potential defensive starters: defensive lineman Stephen Weatherly, linebacker Tahir Whitehead, and cornerback Eli Apple. Then, in the draft, Hurney used all seven of his draft picks on defenders.

Despite wholesale changes, the expectations aren’t for dramatic improvement. The Panthers are +10,000 to win the Super Bowl at BetMGM and William Hill, and +12,500 at DraftKings.

Over/Under: 5.5 Wins

The Panthers are picked to finish last in the NFC South, a division headlined by the Drew Brees-led Saints, the Tom Brady-led Buccaneers, and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons. Without that star power at quarterback, Carolina is facing an uphill battle to return to respectability.

There is reason to be optimistic about the Panthers’ new-look offense,” an analyst from FanDuel told “Bridgewater is an upgrade and proven starter, they’ve invested in the O-line, and they have a talented receiving corps to complement Christian McCaffrey. The new coaching staff offers an interesting new dynamic.”

Rhule rebuilt Baylor following a sexual-assault scandal. He has a major rebuild on his hands in Carolina. Offensive coordinator Joe Brady guided a prolific LSU offense that resulted in the Tigers winning the national championship and quarterback Joe Burrow the Heisman Trophy.

Still, Carolina has a lot of new pieces, and the COVID-19 cancellation of off-season workouts probably won’t help it all come together.

Sportsbooks are in agreement on an over/under of 5.5 wins. At BetMGM, the bet is -120 on the over and +100 on the under.

McCaffrey Makes Magic

With the prolific McCaffrey piling up yards as a runner and receiver, Carolina has at least one X-factor for Brady’s offense. Last season, he led the NFL with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns. He was third with 1,387 rushing yards and second with 116 receptions.

Since MVPs generally come from elite teams, McCaffrey might not win that award. However, he’s tied for second at DraftKings at +1,000 to win Offensive Player of the Year. His over/under for total yardage at DraftKings is 1,900.5.

Rhule is +3,000 to win Coach of the Year at FanDuel, as he takes over a team with three losing campaigns in the four seasons since going 15-1 and reaching the Super Bowl in 2015.

The key will be Bridgewater, who suffered a career-threatening injury in training camp in 2016 and missed most of the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Last year, he replaced the injured Brees to direct the Saints to a 5-0 record. He’s got weapons, with the fleet Anderson joining D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel at receiver.

Editor’s Note: This is the 20th of 32 NFL team previews and the last of four on the NFC South.