Carolina Panthers: nfl FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Carolina Panthers were part of the NFL’s expansion to 30 teams in 1995, when they came into the league with expansion brethren Jacksonville. And while the Carolina Panthers odds to succeed immediately were low, both they and Jacksonville defied the odds and made several deep playoff runs early in their existence.
The Panthers hired former Steelers defensive coordinator Dom Capers as head coach, and drafted Penn St. QB Kerry Collins fifth overall in the 1995 draft. Capers led the team to a 7-9 record, best ever for an NFL expansion team (comparatively, Jacksonville finished 4-12). The following season, Capers carved out a 12-4 record for the franchise’s first division title and a first-round bye.
Shockingly enough, a bet on the Carolina Panthers to win their first playoff game would’ve paid, as the team rode four field goals from John Kasay to a 26-17 victory over the defending champion Dallas Cowboys. The Carolina Panthers odds to win that game, despite being at home, were low – the Cowboys were 3.5-point road favorites.
That was the end of the ride, however, as Carolina would get blown out by eventual champion Green Bay in the NFC title game. Capers would coach two more seasons before being fired. Carolina then brought in former 49ers coach George Seifert, only to see him win a total of 24 games in three seasons.
In 2002, the Panthers were moved to the NFC South. They also replaced Seifert with Giants defensive coordinator John Fox, and drafted DE Julius Peppers second overall. Fox went 7-9 in his first season, then turned the Carolina Panthers odds around completely. The Panthers signed QB Jake Delhomme in the offseason, and the move paid off immediately.
The Panthers won their division, then knocked off Dallas yet again in the wildcard round. A divisional round victory over St. Louis (in OT) and a conference championship game win over Philadelphia catapulted the Panthers to their first-ever Super Bowl appearance. A bet on the Carolina Panthers to win the NFC would finally pay.
The Carolina Panthers odds to capture their first Lombardi trophy weren’t great – the team was a 7-point underdog to the New England Patriots. But a bet on the Carolina Panthers to win would not pay. In one of the best Super Bowl contests ever, the Panthers tied the score with a minute to go, only to lose on the last play of the game when Adam Vinatieri hit a game-winning field goal.
Fox got the Panthers back to the NFC title game two years later, but the Panthers were ousted by the Seattle Seahawks. In 2008, the Panthers won another division title with a 12-4 record, but were upset by the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round. The Carolina Panthers odds in that game? 10-point favorites.
Two seasons later, the Panthers went 2-14, and Fox was replaced. Carolina chose Chargers’ defensive coordinator Ron Rivera to be head coach, and Rivera quickly set out to emulate Fox’s accomplishments. The Panthers drafted Florida QB Cam Newton with the first overall pick in 2011, then picked up LB Luke Kuechly ninth overall in 2012. The Panthers won two division titles in 2013 and 2014 – the second with a losing record of 7-8-1 – but failed to find playoff success, as they would lose in the divisional round in both seasons.
However, in 2015, everything clicked. Newton put together an MVP season, leading the team in passing and rushing. Rivera led Carolina to a 15-1 record and the #1 seed in the NFC. In the divisional round, Carolina gained a measure of revenge against Seattle, who had ousted them the previous year. Then, a bet on the Carolina Panthers to the NFC championship game would pay, asthey throttled the Arizona Cardinals in the, 49-15, to reach their second-ever Super Bowl. This time, their opponent was Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. And for the first time, the Carolina Panthers odds to win their first championship were good – the team was 5-point favorites.
However, it was not to be. Manning himself didn’t beat them, but Denver’s vaunted defense did. Denver sacked Newton six times and held him to 18-41 passing for a harmless 261 yards. A bet on the Carolina Panthers would not pay, as the Broncos won the game, 24-10.
Since Super Bowl 50, a bet on the Carolina Panthers to get back to the Super Bowl has not been a good investment. Newton failed to regain the MVP form that made him the league’s hottest commodity in 2015. He was plagued by injuries between 2017-2019, and after ending last season on IR, he was released. Rivera coached three and a half more seasons in Carolina, making the playoffs once in 2017 as a wildcard, before he was fired halfway through the 2019 season. And despite drafting superstar RB Christian McCaffrey eighth overall in 2017, the Panthers have yet to post a winning season during his career. If the Panthers are to regain their status as a NFC contender, they’ll have to build around their young RB, before his prime years go to waste.
In 2021, head coach Matt Rhule is banking on Sam Darnold to have a resurgence after a rough start to his NFL career with the Jets. Wide receivers Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore should also help, along with a healthy McCaffrey.