Are the Panthers no Longer Super Bowl Contenders?

Posted by: Charlie Smith
NFL teams to win the Super Bowl LI in 2017

Heading into the 2016 season, many football betting sites and gambling fans alike thought that picking the Carolina Panthers to be Super Bowl contenders was about the safest prediction you could make for NFL futures. After all, there was no reason to doubt the reigning MVP. Especially when considering the size of the chip on Cam Newton’s shoulder after making it all the way to the Super Bowl and coming up short. But now heading into Week 5, doubt is the only thing that the Carolina Panthers are facing. Carolina’s woes began when they opened the season by facing their Super Bowl L opponent, the Denver Broncos. Since Denver would be without future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, many critics expected the Panthers to have an easy time against the team that robbed them of becoming champions. However, just like in the Super Bowl, the Broncos outplayed the Panthers in all phases of the game. In beating the Panthers the Broncos exposed the underbelly of Carolina, and ever since then teams haven’t been as fearful of the Panthers as they were in 2015, and the online NFL betting odds have taken notice.

Odds to Win Super Bowl LI

Carolina Panthers +2300

New England Patriots +425

Denver Broncos +880

Odds to Win NFC Championship

Carolina Panthers +980

Green Bay Packers +390

Seattle Seahawks +370

When compared against legitimate contenders, it’s obvious how staggering the odds that Carolina faces are. Before the season began, every single football betting site had the Panthers as one of the top three favorites to win the Super Bowl. But now heading into Week 5, the Panthers Super Bowl hopes have practically gone out of the window.

After losing to the Broncos, Carolina went on to beat the San Francisco 49ers 46-27, and many thought that the Panthers we got to know in 2015 were back. But in reality, the Panthers struggled tremendously in that game, and teams began to see the true weaknesses of this team. There’s no denying offense was the strongest aspect of the Panthers squad in 2015, but the defense wasn’t terrible. But a big part of that hinged on the fact that the Panthers secondary included Josh Norman. Norman was drafted by the Panthers in 2012, and in the three years he spent on Carolina’s roster Norman established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the entire NFL. In 2015 the Panthers slapped Norman with a franchise tag, in order to prevent Norman from signing with another team. During the offseason, Carolina decided to remove the franchise tag from the 28-year old defensive back. Apparently the Panthers and Norman couldn’t agree to a long term deal, and Carolina decided that they would be fine without what many consider to be the best cornerback in the NFL. But now that fans have had time to reflect on the effect of Norman’s absence on the Panthers, it’s abundantly clear that Carolina should have just forked over the extra cash.

This was clearest in the Panthers Week 4 contest against the Atlanta Falcons. Julio Jones, Atlanta’s star receiver, finished the day with 300 receiving yards, which is impressive to say the least. Hell, if a quarterback finishes with 300 yards he’s considered to have a good ballgame. But a receiver finishing with 300 yards is just astronomical. Despite the fact that most football betting sites had the Panthers pegged as favorites over the Falcons, Carolina actually went on to lose that contest. Now that Cam Newton is dealing with a concussion, it truly does seem like the Panthers have no chance of making the Super Bowl, and perhaps even the playoffs.