A BetUS.com "Football Playbook" just arrived in the mail and contained within are an NFC preview, odds, and a Carolina Panthers info sheet. With that, I'm bringing to you all everything this little book has to say about the 2009 Panthers.
Let's start with the odds, shall we? Carolina's current odds are as follows:
Super Bowl: 2500, Play-Offs: 1200, Total Wins: 8.5
Note: How they expect to get half a win is beyond me (I know it's for the sake of betting, but just seems like one of those odd things to me).
Located directly above and below the Panthers are the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals, at 2200/1200/8.5 and 2800/1400/8.5, respectively.
For scale, the current odds leader, not so surprisingly, is the New England Patriots at 500/275/11.5. On the other end, you've got the Detroit Lions at 15000/8000/4.5.
(Although I'm indifferent to them, I hope the Lions go over .500 just to throw everyone off)
Next up we have the NFC preview. Searching out the Panthers leave us with this:
"Carolina Panthers (+2500) did everything right last season except win in the post-season, where they were stunned by the Super Bowl bound Arizona Cardinals. The reluctance of the Panthers to ink Julius Peppers to a long-term contract in the off-season indicates they think this is Jake Delhomme and company's last kick in the can in the NFC."
That says a lot while saying so little. The various meanings one can take from such, or atleast, the ones I took it as being capable of meaning, range from agreeance to complete disagreement. What they truly mean, I suppose, is up to debate. Perhaps that's exactly what they wanted?
Oh, and for the record, BetUS have the New Orlean Saints at +2000, making them their most competent team in the NFC South. The Falcons maintain just ahead of us (+2200) while the Buc's fall to last (+5000).
Finally, we reach the BetUS Carolina Panthers summary.
Offense: Despite their showing against Arizona in that dreadful playoff loss last January, there is much to like here. The two-headed running game can shove it down your throat, WR Steve Smith remains a threat to go long every time he touches the ball, and Jake Delhomme is a solid professional quarterback. This year the offensive line returns fully intact, although the Panthers could use a consistent receiver opposite Smith.
Defense: This unit ranked in the bottom half of the league last year, and had a serious problem stopping the pass, especially late in the year. So they made a switch at defensive coordinator, signed DE Julius Peppers on for at least one more year, and used their top three draft picks on this side of the ball. For better or worse, 10 starters are back, but improvement is needed if Carolina expects to make the playoffs again.
X-Factor: Getting over that playoff loss to a lesser Cardinals team. Carolina rebounded nicely last year from a lousy '07 to earn the two seed in the NFC playoffs, then pissed it away in a couple of hours. Performances like that can linger in the mind.
On a final note, BetUS had projected the Panthers having an 8-8 2008 season, and losing to Detroit in week 10. Considering we finished 12-4 and beat the Lions, lets hope we replicate our margin of difference and go 13.5-3.5 (miraculously winning half of a game).