Peter King might be the most respected NFL writer working today. The longtime Sports Illustrated senior writer has covered the league for more than 30 years and now is the editor and the driving force behind TheMMQB.com, a football-only website developed by Sports Illustrated. He has also previously been voted the national sportswriter of his year by his peers – I, for one, have voted for him multiple times for that award because the guy does so many things so well -- and has done a variety of TV work for HBO, NBC and the like.
So to say King is down on the Panthers’ chances in 2017 carries a lot more weight than it does if, say, Jim at the barbershop in Ballantyne believes it is all going to work out just great for Carolina. And King indeed is down on Carolina – he believes, in fact, the Panthers are now mired in the bottom half of the NFL.
In King’s NFL Power Rankings, published this week, he puts the Panthers last in their NFC South division this year and ranks them No. 19 overall out of 32 NFL teams.
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King actually is somewhat complimentary in the text that accompanies Carolina’s ranking, other than saying that the Panthers overpaid for offensive tackle Matt Kalil. He likes Carolina’s idea of getting Julius Peppers back and he writes of Carolina’s top draft pick: “There’s a big new star in Charlotte: Christian McCaffrey.”
On the other hand, King writes that he has questions about linebacker’s Luke Kuechly’s “long-term health and availability” given the season-ending concussion Kuechly sustained last season and also about “which Cam Newton will show up.”
Now of course King’s predictions are far from perfect, just like the predictions of every other sportswriter in history (myself included). Prior to Super Bowl 50, King predicted Carolina to beat Denver 24-13 and even wrote a fake game story about it. And longtime Panthers fans will remember the other side of this equation, when Carolina was picked to win the Super Bowl by either King or Sports Illustrated and the Panthers instead flopped.
If you’re curious about the rest of King’s current top 10 for 2017, here they are, in order:
1. New England
6. Green Bay
8. Kansas City
10. New York Giants