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History Not on Panthers' Side in 2016

In 2015 the Panthers came out of nowhere to surprise everyone on their way to a 15-1 regular season and NFC championship. The almost spotless season came to a screeching halt in the Super Bowl when they had the life sucked out of them by Denver’s defense. Disappointing finish aside, there’s many reasons for optimism for Cam Newton and company, and oddsmakers agree.

Despite not having any elite-level receivers, the Panthers led the NFL in points per game last season at 31.3. The hole at receiver was eventually exposed in the Super Bowl, but the likes of Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess will make way for the returning Kelvin Benjamin. Prior to missing last season with a torn ACL, Benjamin put up 1009 receiving yards in his rookie season. He should give Carolina an immediate No. 1 receiver threat and will be a welcomed addition to an already strong offense.

Here’s an analysis of Carolina’s odds:

Super Bowl +1100

Tied for the fourth-best odds to win the Super Bowl, the Panthers have a whole lot of history working against them this season. Only twice in Super Bowl history has a team lost in the Super Bowl, then won it the next year with the last team to accomplish the feat being the Dolphins way back in 1972 — 17 years before Cam Newton was born.

NFC Championship +575

Behind the Packers and Seahawks, the Panthers are tied with the Cardinals for the third-best odds to win the NFC title — something they’ve done twice in their franchise history. Having home-field advantage went a long way towards winning the NFC last season as Carolina is now on a streak that’s seen them win 13 straight home games which makes a No. 1 seed crucial for the Panthers. Their schedule is balanced fairly evenly, but if they can go into Week 13 without too many blemishes they should have a great shot at that No. 1 seed as three of their final four games come against the Chargers, Falcons and Bucs.

NFC South -240

The Panthers have now won three straight division crowns and are heavily favored to continue that streak. Carolina is one of the biggest favorites in division futures markets this season and will attempt to become the eighth team since division realignment in 2002 to win a division in four straight seasons. If you like them to win the division, you might be better off grabbing the OVER on their 10.5 win total at -125.

OVER/UNDER Win Total - 10.5

It’s all about strength of schedule when looking at the OVER/UNDER win total. The Panthers face six playoff teams from 2015, including the Broncos, Cardinals and Seahawks. Depending on your opinion on their divisional opponents, the Panthers might not have too many gimmes in 2016. Still though, they’ve finished with a mark higher than 10.5 in two of the last three seasons, and after finishing with 15 wins last season, I don’t see a way that they’ll be five games or worse than that this season.

Digging into a bit of history, there were five teams prior to the 2015 Panthers who finished a season 15-1. The next season they averaged 11.2 wins and they all made the playoffs.

Cam Newton for MVP +800

Cam Newton will attempt to become just the second player in the 2000s to win back-to-back MVPs as he trails just Aaron Rodgers (+425) and Ben Roethlisberger (+750) on the MVP odds board. Newton’s MVP campaign in 2015 was fueled by a career-high 35 TD passes and 10 rushing TD’s that might be tough to replicate. The 35 TD passes were 11 more than his previous high, while he hit double-digit rushing TDs for the first time since his rookie season. Quarterbacks have won eight of the last nine MVP awards, but considering the lack of back-to-back winners in recent years, there’s better season-long bets to tie your money up with.

2016 Carolina Panthers Futures Odds
Super Bowl+1100
NFC Championship+575
NFC South-240
Win Totals 10.5

Odds as of September 6 at Bovada