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A boldly specific win-loss prediction for the 2020 Carolina Panthers

It will likely be another long season for the Panthers, but 2020 could also come with hope for a brighter future.

NFL: DEC 22 Panthers at Colts Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the 2020 season kicking off this week it’s that time of year for each of us to go on the record and predict how many games the Panthers will win this year. As you’ll see below I’m anticipating a second straight 5-11 campaign as Carolina installs a new coaching staff, incorporates a new quarterback, and rejiggers the entire defense in the middle of a global pandemic. You can make your own bold predictions in the poll and comments section below.

Overall I think the Panthers offense will be better than most people think, but it won’t be enough to make up for a secondary that will get torched by teams with good quarterbacks and receivers. That defensive Achilles heel in the secondary doesn’t bode well for this season’s schedule. Here’s the week-by-week details of how the Panthers get to 5-11 in 2020:

Week 1 vs. Las Vegas Raiders - Win (1-0). The Panthers emerge victorious in Matt Rhule’s debut, winning in a wild shootout as two serviceable offenses exploit two subpar defenses.

Week 2 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Loss (1-1). The cannon on the Buccaneers pirate ship in the north end zone will be fired early and often as Tom Brady and his array of offensive weapons overwhelm the Panthers shaky secondary.

Week 3 at Los Angeles Chargers - Loss (1-2). Carolina makes the cross-country trip to face one of the NFL’s better defenses and loses in a low-scoring, generally boring game.

Week 4 vs. Arizona Cardinals - Loss (1-3). The combination of an improved Kyler Murray, dominant DeAndre Hopkins, and eternally productive Larry Fitzgerald proves to be too much for Carolina’s secondary. Both defenses struggle and Arizona wins in a high scoring affair.

Week 5 at Atlanta Falcons - Loss (1-4). Division games on the road are just tough. The trend continues of the Panthers secondary giving up big plays to a talented QB/WR combination in Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley.

Week 6 vs. Chicago Bears - Win (2-4). Both offenses struggle in a low-scoring contest. Donte Jackson scores on a pick-six to give the Panthers the winning margin.

Week 7 at New Orleans Saints - Loss (2-5). The Panthers are rebuilding. The Saints have their sights set on a Super Bowl run. Carolina loses in a blowout.

Week 8 vs. Atlanta Falcons - Win (3-5). After losing in Atlanta in Week 5, the Panthers coaching staff reworks their game plan and neutralizes the Falcons passing game just enough to eek out a close victory.

Week 9 at Kansas City Chiefs - Loss (3-6). The Panthers lose and we’re all fine with that. As Panthers fans we just sit back and enjoy the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes and remind ourselves that another loss means a better draft pick in 2021.

Week 10 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Loss (3-7). Bruce Arians and Tom Brady have fully clicked by Week 10 and once again lay waste to the Panthers overmatched defense.

Week 11 vs. Detroit Lions - Win (4-7). The Panthers front four pressures Matthew Stafford throughout the game while Christian McCaffrey exceeds 100 yards both rushing and receiving. The Panthers have their first double-digit win of the season.

Week 12 at Minnesota Vikings - Loss (4-8). The well-rounded Vikings are simply the better overall football team. Minnesota churns out a methodical win in a game they control from the outset.

Week 13 - Bye

Week 14 vs. Denver Broncos - Loss (4-9). Even coming off a bye week, the Panthers offense gets stuffed by a solid Denver defense. Carolina loses a close one in a grudge match where punters earn their paychecks.

Week 15 at Green Bay Packers - Loss (4-10). The Packers are preparing for the playoffs and simply steamroll the Panthers in a cold game at Lambeau Field.

Week 16 at Washington Football Team - Win (5-10). Ron Rivera is shown some love by his former players. Matt Rhule devises a wicked game plan and quickly reminds everyone why there’s a new (and more innovative) sheriff in Charlotte and the Panthers win convincingly.

Week 17 vs. New Orleans Saints - Loss (5-11). The Saints will still be jockeying for playoff position and won’t be resting their starters. The Panthers fight hard but lose the final game of the season.

Frankly, a 5-11 season in 2020 wouldn’t bother me the same way I was frustrated by last season’s 5-11 record. At the beginning of last year the Panthers seemingly had a fighter’s chance at making the playoffs with their veteran roster, then everything fell apart. I can live with a 5-11 record this year as long as Matt Rhule’s staff looks like an upgrade, the offense starts to gel under Teddy Bridgewater, and a number of the defensive rookies demonstrate they can be solid players for years to come. Having those things happen would give me hope, and I’ll take a 5-11 season as long as it comes with a reason to believe in a more competitive future.

I’m officially on the record now. Feel free to join me in sticking your neck out and making your own season win total projections in the comments.

Poll

How many games will the Panthers win this season?

This poll is closed

  • 3%
    10 or more
    (22 votes)
  • 9%
    8 or 9
    (65 votes)
  • 29%
    6 or 7
    (197 votes)
  • 33%
    4 or 5
    (221 votes)
  • 21%
    2 or 3
    (144 votes)
  • 2%
    0 or 1
    (18 votes)
667 votes total Vote Now