Thomas Emerick, RantSports.com, 6-10, 4th in NFC South
Despite a very good, young front-seven this defense still looks middling-at-best to me. Awesome front-seven combined with leagues worst secondary burns you more often than not.
Matthew Coates, FootballNation.com, 12-4
The Panthers have great talent, Newton seems to be continuing in his leadership, and some of the other, young players are stepping up. This Panthers team will surprise a lot of fans around the league.
Matt Ufford, SBNation.com, 8-8, Tied for 3rd in NFC South
The defense should be better, but this is a team that simply has too much money tied up in two big contracts for running backs it doesnt need, or use effectively.
Doug Farrarr, SI.com, No record, 3rd in NFC South
Though I might be underselling the Panthers, especially their front seven, Im not sure about Cam Newton or the secondary.
Danny Tuccitto, FootballOutsiders.com
I'm not drinking the Kool Aid. Tampa Bay got a pass defense and New Orleans got their dear leader back. Atlanta seems poised to regress somewhat, but they're not going to be pushovers by any means. The Panthers also have to play Seattle, San Francisco, and New England. Elsewhere, Ron Rivera is not a good coach.
David Newton, ESPN.com, 9-7
The key word that keeps surfacing is leadership. New offensive coordinator Mike Shula likes what Newton has shown in practice, but it all comes down to results.
Mike Tanier, SportsOnEarth.com, No record
Ted Ginn may be the most important player no one is talking about, as he fixes two of the Panthers biggest 2012 problems: a second receiver opponents actually care about, and a return man who doesn't fumble. Cam Newton? He's not as great as the 2011 hype or as bad as the 2012 criticism, and he can still get better. This is a Wild Card team, at least.
Eric Schmidt, The Pigskin Report, 5-11, 4th in NFC South
One of the hottest coaching seats in the NFL belongs to Carolinas own, Ron Rivera. Carolina lost offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski to the Cleveland Browns this offseason and replaced him with Mike Shula. Shula has stated that he wants QB Cam Newton to become more of a pocket passer this season. Well have to see how that works out.
Greg Bedard, Sports Illustrated, No record, 16th in NFC
Under Rivera and Newton the Panthers are 13-19. Twelve of those losses have been by seven or fewer points. Perhaps that suggests promise, but theres no getting around the franchises four-year playoff drought.
Tom Pelissero and Nate Davis, USA TODAY, 9-7, 2nd in NFC South
Ron Rivera enters the season on a warm seat but can quickly douse it with cold water if Carolina merely starts better than 1-5, something they've done in their head coach's first two seasons. The early part of the schedule looks manageable with just two playoff teams from 2012 among the first seven outings.
Greg Price, International Business Times
The Carolina Panthers enter the season with a strong opportunity to reverse their fortunes. A healthy defense led by second-year linebacker Luke Kuechly, and a monster year from quarterback Cam Newton should be enough for head coach Ron Rivera to keep his job after a lackluster 7-9 record in 2012.
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email email@example.com to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less