The Carolina Panthers are beginning a new era in 2020.
It first starts with new head coach Matt Rhule – who came over from Baylor University in the offseason and will take the reins from Ron Rivera. Rhule had a very successful run with the Bears and at Temple University and will look to translate his college football schemes into the NFL.
The Panthers then did way with Cam Newton after nine seasons and a Super Bowl appearance. Newton only appeared in two games in 2019 before being sidelined with an injury. Newton eventually landed with the New England Patriots and will likely be the starting quarterback for Bill Belichick after Tom Brady left in the offseason.
Carolina replaced Newton with Teddy Bridgewater, who is a few years removed from a devastating knee injury. He went undefeated in the five games he replaced Drew Brees during his stint with the New Orleans Saints last season and parlayed his performance into a starting job in Carolina.
While the Panthers lost James Bradberry in the secondary, they will rely more on third-year cornerback Donte Jackson and veteran Eli Apple. The defensive line also saw the addition of rookies Derrick Brown and Yetur Gross-Matos along with veteran Stephen Weatherly. Carolina already boasts Kawann Short and Brian Burns, who have been known to instill fear into opposing quarterbacks. Short is coming back from an injury. He had three sacks in 2018 and 7.5 in 2017.
While the NFC South will be ultra-competitive, the Panthers may be more competitive than people realize.
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NEW ADDITION HIGHLIGHT: TEDDY BRIDGEWATER
It wasn’t too long ago where Bridgewater’s career was in jeopardy.
Bridgewater was in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings in 2016 when he went down with a noncontact knee injury. He tore his ACL, suffered structural damage and dislocated his knee joint. The injury cost him 19 months of his career and he would later make one final appearance with the Vikings in 2017.
Bridgewater made an appearance with the New York Jets in the preseason but it didn’t last long. He would be traded to the Saints where he would back up Brees for two seasons.
In 2019, he got a chance to show if he had anything left. Brees went down with a hand injury and Bridgewater stepped up, and it was almost like the Saints didn’t miss a beat. Bridgewater finished 2019 with 1,384 passing yards, nine touchdown passes, and two interceptions.
He then signed a three-year deal with the Panthers, making him a starter once again. He is in charge of the new-look Panthers and has key weapons around him which might surprise teams this season.
Offense: Teddy Bridgewater (QB), Christian McCaffrey (RB), D.J. Moore (WR), Robby Anderson (WR), Curtis Samuel (WR), Ian Thomas (TE), Russell Okung (OT), Dennis Daley (OG), Matt Paradis (C), John Miller (OG), Taylor Moton (OT)
Defense: Stephen Weatherly (DE), Derrick Brown (DT), Kawaan Short (DT), Brian Burns (DE), Shaq Thompson (LB), Tahir Whitehead (LB), Jermaine Carter (LB), Donte Jackson (CB), Justin Burris (S), Tre Boston (S), Eli Apple (CB)
Special Teams: Joey Slye (K), Joseph Charlton (P)
2020 PANTHERS SCHEDULE (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Raiders (9/13; 1 pm)
Week 2: @ Buccaneers (9/20; 1 pm)
Week 3: @ Chargers (9/27; 4:05 pm)
Week 4: Cardinals (10/4; 1 pm)
Week 5: @ Falcons (10/11; 1 pm)
Week 6: Bears (10/18; 1 pm)
Week 7: @ Saints (10/25; 1 pm)
Week 8: Falcons (10/29; 8:20 pm)
Week 9: @ Chiefs (11/8; 1 pm)
Week 10: Buccaneers (11/15; 1 pm)
Week 11: Lions (11/22; 1 pm)
Week 12: @ Vikings (11/29; 1 pm)
Week 13: BYE
Week 14: Broncos (12/13; 1 pm)
Week 15: @ Packers (12/20; 1 pm)
Week 16: @ Washington (12/27; 1 pm)
Week 17: Saints (1/3; 1 pm)
To win the Super Bowl: +12500
Odds courtesy of Vegas Insider.