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NFC South regular-season predictions: Carolina Panthers

No one is more stylish in the waning moments of a heartbreaking loss than Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

No one is more stylish in the waning moments of a heartbreaking loss than Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.

It’s time for my annual breakdown of the NFC South regular-season schedule — not to mention my picks for each game. We kick off this four-part series with a look at everyone’s favorite kitties, the Keep Pounding Carolina Panthers.

Week 1: vs. Seattle Seahawks

Carolina’s revamped front seven could help compensate for the deficiencies in the secondary and give quarterback Russell Wilson some trouble. However, running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch will ultimately prove to be too much for the youth in the middle. The Panthers offense will come up short against a pretty good Seattle defense.

My one wish is that wide receiver Steve Smith shuts up Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman early with a warm NFC South welcome.

Final score: Panthers 13, Seahawks 20

Week 2: @ Buffalo Bills

Buffalo has been bad for years and they are starting over yet again at quarterback. The Carolina front seven keeps running back C.J. Spiller in check, and the Bills fail to take advantage of a weak secondary.

Final score: Panthers 24, Bills 10

Week 3: vs. New York Giants

It looks like a rough start at home for the Kitties. The Giants return their talented wide receivers and have a promising running back tandem. Quarterback Eli Manning abuses Panthers secondary, but Steve Smith finds many ways to get open quickly, helping Cam avoid sacks from those nasty defensive ends. They fall just short at home in a shootout.

Final score: Panthers 24, Giants 27

Week 4: Bye

Week 5: @ Cardinals

Coming off an early bye, the Panthers will completely shut down the Cardinals run game. Nevertheless, quarterback Carson Palmer finds wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald early and often. Arizona fields a solid defense, and the match-up between Smith and cornerback Patrick Peterson should be fun to watch. Carolina will rely heavily on running backs Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams.

Final score: Panthers 20, Cardinals 17

Week 6: @ Minnesota Vikings

Luckily for Carolina, they draw the NFC North team they match up best against. No, they aren’t going to stop running back Adrian Peterson. But by now the front seven will have started to meld and will keep him in check. Quarterback Christian Ponder just doesn’t have the talent to air it out.

Final score: Panthers 21, Vikings 13

Week 7: vs. St. Louis Rams

Wide receiver Tavon Austin could be the next Percy Harvin, but he’s stuck in a black hole. The young running backs can’t get anything going against the potent front seven. Cam Newton has a field day. Cortland Finnegan can’t match up with Steve Smith.

Final score: Panthers 31, Rams 14

Week 8: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The first divisional game at last. As soon as they arrive and see the Pirate Ship, the Panthers point and laugh. Then they realize that quarterback Josh Freeman is at the helm and (arrrrrrgh) fear settles in. Carolina is unable to recover as Smith tries to get off the island without success. The Muscle Hamster, running back Doug Martin, beats into submission a front seven already worn from its battle with Adrian Peterson, and he finishes with 120 total yards. Wide receivers Mike Williams and Vincent Jackson can’t be slowed down.

Final score: Panthers 10, Bucs 27

Week 9: vs. Atlanta Falcons

The rookie Falcons defensive backs face their first mobile quarterback. On the other side, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan abuses the Panthers’ poor secondary. Stewart and Williams stay fresh and run all over Atlanta’s front seven. Newly acquired running back Steven Jackson wears down the front seven that has faced two top backs in as many weeks as the game turns into a shootout. Fortunately for the Panthers, they get the ball last and this time, Newton doesn’t put the towel over his head with two minutes remaining on the clock.

Can Cam step up this year and become the leader he needs to be?

Could this be the year Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton steps up and becomes the leader he needs to be?

Final score: Panthers 34, Falcons 31

Week 10: @ San Francisco 49ers

Wide receiver Michael Crabtree is probably not yet back from injury, and running back Frank Gore is worn down by this point in the year. LaMichael James looks to take some carries down the stretch. The Carolina front seven recovers against an overused and aging running back, while linebacker Luke Kuechly keeps quarterback Colin Kaepernick in check. Unfortunately, Newton and the running back tandem just can’t get any momentum versus possibly the best defense in the league. Out comes the towel.

Final score: Panthers 10 49ers 13

Week 11: vs. New England Patriots

Tight end Rob Gronkowski should be back and playing at a high level by now. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady picks apart this defense at will — with or without Danny Amendola on the field. Wide receiver Aaron Dobson should be coming along fairly well by now. Carolina gets embarrassed at home.

Final score: Panthers 17, Patriots 31

Week 12: @ Miami Dolphins

Miami seems to be on the rise, but so do the Panthers. Miami running back Lamar Miller is unable to consistently break the line of scrimmage, allowing the secondary to get extra help on wide receiver Mike Wallace. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill isn’t talented enough to get the ball to him in double coverage.

Final score: Panthers 24, Dolphins 13

Week 13: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Carolina is out for revenge, and luckily, Josh Freeman isn’t as scary without his Pirate Ship. The front seven is feeling confidant after handling a couple of easier running backs. Doug Martin reminds them that he isn’t easy, though. Smith swims offshore just once before coming back, but it’s enough. Newton leaves the towel in his pocket and starts to show signs of being a leader as the game winds to a close.

Final score: Panthers 24, Bucs 21

Week 14: @ New Orleans Saints

Cam & Co. come to the Superdome to see what a real high-powered offense looks like. By this point, defensive coordinator Rob Ryan’s defense has settled in, but the game turns into a shootout. This time Newton can’t get over the noise and dons the towel to shield out the cacophony as the end approaches.

Final score: Panthers 27, Saints 34

Week 15: vs. New York Jets

No better remedy for the previous week’s humiliation than to face quarterback Mark “Buttfumble” Sanchez. Or will rookie Geno Smith be at the helm? Either way the Jets are a terrible team. I’ll be surprised if head coach Rex Ryan is still with the team at this point. The Panthers abuse their hapless prey.

Final score: Panthers 34, Jets 9

Week 16: vs. New Orleans Saints

Sitting at 8-6, Carolina faces two tough teams to close out the season and needs to win both to make the playoffs. To no one’s surprise, they engage in yet another shootout. Quarterback Drew Brees marches down the field to tie the game at the end. Carolina wins the flip and Newton leads his team to the 32-yard line for a long field goal.

Final score: Panthers 31, Saints 28 (OT)

Week 17: @ Atlanta Falcons

The entire season comes down to this. Carolina must face reigning regular-season champion Matt Ryan on the road in a must-win situation. Cam can’t withstand the pressure like Ryan can.

Final score: Panthers 24, Falcons 34

Season record: 9-7

Carolina misses the playoffs yet again, but on the bright side, Cam Newton has his first winning season. Head coach Ron Rivera has done just enough to hold on to his job for one more season.

671 comments
Maized and Confused
Maized and Confused

Jahvid Best had a career average of 3.7 yards per carry, and 10% of that is from one play wear the Bears defense broke down and never even touched him.

Best was one of the WORST after-contact RBs I've ever seen. A gust of wind could tackle him. He had great speed if he got out into the open, but other than ONE play against the Bears where they let him walk right by, he was a 3-yard tackle waiting to happen.

natesweet
natesweet moderator

With our comment system now being much better than what they are using at ESPN I would not be surprised to see even more folks coming over. Especially since we have those simple chat rooms on gameday and because we stream games.

robertj72
robertj72

Kevin Smith was better than Jahvid Best.

natradamus
natradamus moderator

is there been any bets about cam newton and coach rivera having a rift by the end of the year?

G & G
G & G moderator

Any news of Prep

robertj72
robertj72

Wood...I will take that bet in after 3rd preseason game. I just want to feel sure that injuries don't riddle my team...It is my only concern with them having a better PPG than Chicago who will be 13th or worse.

LKP
LKP

@jwoude23 Bear Down Best played about 8 of his 22 games very healthy.When he did that he was a game changer most of the time.

LKP
LKP

@jwoude23 Bear Down Such a shame. They had more room now to do it and it gives them more room next year.

adambballn
adambballn

Or just tell him someone brought in tacos and we're having a taco party... that'll work.

LKP
LKP

@jwoude23 Bear Down Lions didn't go 5-0 in 2011 with a slow ass RB. Just think about the Lions being undefeated

robertj72
robertj72

@prep itation @robertj72 forgive me if I don't entirely trust the moderators objectivity...media has bludgeoned Cam for many minor things every QB does since he joined the league.

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@robertj72 @prep itation to come up with interpretation- it goes to a vote of the sites moderators- excluding anyone participating in the bet

robertj72
robertj72

@prep itation @robertj72 nah...it is too intangible...would Cam giving a no answer to a jackass question like "Is it a coaching problem" be interpreted as rift with Rivera?

natradamus
natradamus moderator

@robertj72 @prep itation I got someone to bet that cutler would cry last year, and another bet that a lion would be arrested by the end of the season-  these types of bets are way better than team records