Wednesday, August 11, 2010

2010 Preview: Carolina Panthers

2009 Record: 8-8

2009 Rankings:
Total Offense - 19
Run Offense - 3
Pass Offense - 27
Scoring Offense - 21
Total Defense - 8
Run Defense - 22
Pass Defense - 4
Scoring Defense - 9

Carolina has the most dynamic duo of running backs in the league, with DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart both compiling 1,100-yard seasons last year. With Jake Delhomme departed for the browner turd-stains of Cleveland, the offense is temporarily in the hands of QB Matt Moore. While Moore doesn't have the most striking pedigree, he has compiled a 6-2 record as a starter with a completion percentage close to 60%. The Panthers may have landed the steal of the draft when QB Jimmy Clausen (Notre Dame) fell to them in the second round. Moore should be the starter coming out of camp, giving Clausen and 6th round pick Tony Pike (QB-Cincinnati) the time to develop into NFL QBs.

Carolina has a very good Offensive line, which should give Moore the protection he needs to not take a pounding. The most encouraging statistic for Panthers fans is Moores TD-to-INT ratio. Whereas Jake Delhomme posted 8 TDs and 18 INTs in 11 games last year, whereas Moore threw for 8 TDs and only 2 INTs in 7 games.

Carolina's run defense had a down year last year, but look to improve this year by moving former Penn State backer Dan Connor into a starting role. Their front 4 still has questionable talent, and with the departure of Julius Peppers the Panthers lost their lone stand-out pass rusher. They drafted Everette Brown (DE-USC) to replace Peppers, but it remains to be seen whether or not Brown will be able to fill the void in the pass rush that Peppers left behind. With Matt Ryan and Drew Brees in the division, the Panthers are going to need to get pressure on the quarterback if they want to compete in this division.

The Panthers have the look of a team that could be competitive or fall flat on their face. They are bound to get into a few shootouts with games against New Orleans and Atlanta. Carolina's offense is built around running the ball, and they can keep themselves in games by keeping their defense off the field and controlling time of possession. They had the second most rushing attempts of any team in the league last year, and they should approach that rank once again this season.

Ian's Prediction: 8-8

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