Can Baker Mayfield end the string of five-win seasons for the Carolina Panthers?
September 5, 2022
A new QB and a healthy running back bring renewed hope to Carolina
NFL Preview – Carolina Panthers
By Steve Quinne
Win Total = 6.5
Last season started promising for the Panthers. They got out of the gates with a 3-0 mark, heading into October with the hope that things had turned in year two under Matt Rhule.
Not so much. Carolina sputtered through the rest of the season, winning just two more games. The Panthers finished the campaign with a 5-12 mark, their third-consecutive year with just five wins.
It’s been a long fall since appearing in Super Bowl 50. Five losing seasons. Just one playoff appearance. And a litany of quarterbacks.
Last year, Sam Darnold started 11 games for the Panthers. Cam Newton was behind center for five. And P.J. Walker got the nod in the remaining game.
It was ugly. The revolving door at QB was the team’s biggest problem.
This season, the Panthers hope they’ve found the answer. Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, is now Carolina’s starter.
He’s looking for a fresh start after four up-and-down years in Cleveland. The Panthers are looking for someone to get the franchise back on track.
Can he do it? Well, he’ll have some help. Christian McCaffrey is amongst the most-explosive weapons in the NFL when he’s healthy. The running back is finally 100 percent, which will take a lot of pressure off Mayfield.
What will it all add up to? Well, seven wins are a definite possibility.
If the Panthers simply beat the bad teams on their schedule, they’ll reach that mark. The Browns, Giants, Lions and Steelers are all winnable games. So are their divisional matchups with the Falcons and Saints. They could split those four, beat the Seahawks and still get to seven.
Things feel like they’re on the upswing in Carolina. Take the Panthers to hit the over.
Odds to Make the Playoffs = +330
The last time the Panthers made the playoffs, Ron Rivera was their head coach and they faced Drew Brees. It was 2017, their only postseason appearance since losing to the Broncos in Super Bowl 50.
Can they get back this season? Perhaps.
The NFC isn’t particularly strong. Outside of the Buccaneers, Packers and Rams, there aren’t many great teams. It’s a conference that has seen Washington make the playoffs in recent years.
Nine wins could sneak in. Carolina could surprise at get to that number.
At 1/4, there’s no value in picking the Panthers not to make the playoffs. So roll the dice, take the juice and root, root, root for Baker Mayfield.
Christian McCaffrey to Lead the NFL in Rushing Yards = 30/1
The last two seasons have been disappointments for Christian McCaffrey. Once considered amongst the most-dangerous running backs in the NFL, providing a dual threat out of the backfield, injuries have derailed his career.
In 2020 and ’21, McCaffrey had just 158 total carries. He rushed for only 667 yards. So, it seems like a longshot that the Panthers running back would lead the league in rushing this season.
The talent is certainly there, however. In 2018, McCaffrey rushed for 1,098 yards. The next season, he posted 1,387 yards. Those totals show the potential.
Now that he’s healthy, Carolina figures to feed the rock to their workhorse back a lot. They’ll be looking for him to take pressure off of Baker Mayfield.
A 1,500-yard season is a possibility. That puts McCaffrey right in the race. At 30/1, it’s worth a shot.