Bengals News

2013 NFL Preview: NFC South

7 of 8

Carolina Panthers

2012 Record: 7-9; 2nd Place

2013 Prediction: 5-11

Confidence in Pick: 20%

Losses: Chris Gamble,

Pickups: Star Lotulelei, Ted Ginn Jr.

Reasons for Optimism:

Cam Newton’s “Potential” – If you were to design the perfect athlete, it would look a lot like Cam Newton. 6’5”, 245 lbs, chiseled from stone and lightning fast. He has had an amazing start to his NFL career, much better than anyone (myself included) could have imagined. With 7,920 passing yards, 40 passing TDs, 1,447 rushing yards, 22 running TDs, and a 85.3 rating in his 2 years in the league, I believe he is the hardest player in the league to account for. This team will go where Cam takes them.

Luke Kuechly – The guy is a stud. He led the NFL (as a rookie) with 164 tackles and added 11 tackles for a loss. The second year player – from St. Xavier high school btw – is the heart and soul of this defense.

Running Attack – Jonathan Stewart and DeAngelo Williams each are top 10-15 RBs in the NFL. Unfortunately for them, they both play for the Panthers and the Panthers seem not to know how to use either, let alone both. With Newton and these two, the Panthers could (and should), have the most unstoppable running attack around. They don’t. If the Panthers can figure out how to use both/either, I like this aspect of the team. **NOTE – the recent injury of Stewart could actually help because it will force the Panthers to use a main back.

Steve Smith – He is small and 34, but he still puts up huge numbers and remains one of the toughest guys to cover. My concern is his ability to keep it up entering his 13 season.