2008 Carolina Panthers NFC South Predictions May 23rd, 2008
By: NFL Handicapping Staff
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NFL Pro Football Futures Betting – Delhomme in Carolina
The odds are posted from Our best Sportsbooks on winning all eight of the NFL’s divisions, as well as the NFC and AFC, and, of course, the whole ball of wax – Super Bowl XLIII. One team that had playoff hopes last season but saw them dashed by injuries was the Carolina Panthers, who won four of their first six games then won only three more games the rest of the season, having lost quarterback Jake Delhomme for the season. This year there’s some hope, but also some uncertainty. we look at the Panthers today.
First let’s look at the odds to win the NFC and NFC South divisions, as they appear in Our best Sportsbooks:
BetUS NFL Futures Odds
To Win NFC South
New Orleans Saints +120
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +200
CAROLINA PANTHERS +220
Atlanta Falcons +1200
To win the AFC Championship
Dallas Cowboys +350
Green Bay Packers +900
New York Giants +700
New Orleans Saints +900
Philadelphia Eagles +750
Seattle Seahawks +1200
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +1400
Washington Redskins +1600
Minnesota Vikings +1000
Arizona Cardinals +1800
CAROLINA PANTHERS +2000
Detroit Lions +2200
Chicago Bears +1600
San Francisco 49ers +2800
St. Louis Rams +2500
Atlanta Falcons +6500
The style of head coach John Fox is to run the ball, and run it often. Toward that end, Fox and general manager Marty Hurney went out and drafted Jonathan Stewart from Oregon in the first round and traded up to take right tackle Jeff Otah of Pitt with another first-round selection. Stewart will take the place of the oft-injured DeShawn Foster and give the Panthers a potentially potent 1-2 punch with D’Angelo Williams.
This is not to say that Carolina will be land-locked, though. New acquisitions also included wide receivers D.J. Hackett, who has some upside, and Muhsin Muhammad, the former Panther who experienced two Pro Bowl seasons in Charlotte. If these fellows work out, it will take pressure off Steve Smith, who is so often smothered by the opposition.
Of course, someone has to throw the ball to these receivers. Delhomme, who took Carolina to the Super Bowl after the 2003 season, played only three games last year, tossing eight TD’s with only one interception, then went down with an elbow injury. That forced Fox to go with two quarterbacks who had been #1 overall choices in the NFL draft – the ineffective David Carr and aging Vinny Testaverde – as stopgaps, but Carolina was non-offensive, going through one five-game losing streak where it scored just 50 points. Delhomme, who had “Tommy John” surgery in the off-season, must come back and come back healthy, or else it’s a year of transition under Matt Moore or Brett Basanez.
The offensive line has been shuffled. All five starters will either be new or in a new position, including Otah, a huge right tackle with great potential who is being brought aboard specifically to help kick-start the running game. On the defensive line, Mike Rucker has retired, Kris Jenkins was traded, and one-time All-Pro Julius Peppers had a terrible year, exerting almost no pressure on the quarterback. Veteran linebacker Dan Morgan was released, but this can still be an area of strength, because Na’il Diggs is dependable, Landon Johnson was added as a free agent, Jon Beason, last year’s #1 pick, is an emerging presence and Dan Connor, the Penn State All-American, might be one of the draft’s biggest bargains. The Panthers will be able to defend the pass well enough; they have a trio of very capable cornerbacks in Richard Marshall, Chris Gamble and Ken Lucas, safety Chris Harris is solid, and the acquisition of Terrence Holt and third-round pick Charles Godfrey of Iowa adds depth.
Obviously the Panthers have to get production from Delhomme. They also need for both of their top running backs to stay healthy, and for things to come together on the rebuilt defensive line. But there was always the nucleus for a prime NFC South contender. So with Tampa Bay’s offense lacking punch, and possibly without Cadillac Williams for half the season, and with New Orleans once again having question marks on defense, there is an open door if enough things go right. I’m not sure there is tremendous value on Carolina at the +225 at BetUS, but they have enough capability to go to the playoffs as a wild card. Then, in the wide-open NFC, anything could happen, as the Giants demonstrated last year.
JAY’S PREDICTION FOR 2008:
Carolina Panthers — 9-7, Tie-2nd place, NFC South
(+220 to win NFC East, +2000 to win NFC, +5000 to win Super Bowl)
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