Tom Sorensen

It’s the Panthers against the world again. But only in fantasy football.

On offense, success for the Carolina Panthers depends on how new coordinator Norv Turner, quarterback Cam Newton and the fast new fleet of receivers work together.
On offense, success for the Carolina Panthers depends on how new coordinator Norv Turner, quarterback Cam Newton and the fast new fleet of receivers work together. jsiner@charlotteobserver.com

Do you care if Pete Prisco, an interesting guy and a writer for CBS Sports, picks the Carolina Panthers to go 7-9 this season? Some of you do, and I have no idea why. Neither Prisco nor any of the national writers and broadcasters hates the Panthers. Some of you won’t like this, but I don’t believe that the NFL or NFL officials do.

Somebody will go 7-9 this season, and Pete Prisco chose the Panthers. The number is so common it could have its own patch on Carolina’s jerseys.

The Panthers have once gone 15-1, 7-8-1, 1-15, 2-14. They’ve twice gone 6-10. They’ve three times gone 12-4, 11-5 and 8-8.

They’ve gone 7-9 seven times, although not since 2012. I haven’t picked a number for the Panthers this season. I need to see them in camp.

The main reason many pick the Panthers to hover around .500, despite going 11-5 last season, is because of the teams with which they share the NFC South. Atlanta ought to be very good, provided holdout Julio Jones runs out for passes. The New Orleans Saints again should be good. Last season, quarterback Drew Brees didn’t have to win games. He could hand the ball to running backs that did.

Check an array of the Las Vegas over-under odds, and almost everybody has Carolina’s victory total at nine, Atlanta is at nine, and New Orleans is at 9½. This doesn’t mean Las Vegas respects the Panthers more than the prognosticators that project them to finish with more losses than wins. It means that to entice bettors to put their money down, Las Vegas needed to find a number that theoretically would attract as many over bets as under bets. Nine was that number for Carolina.

It can be fun to think that it’s your team against the world, which is another way of saying the world hates your team. But that’s not true.

I like what Carolina offers. Although I have reservations about their safeties, I like the defense, especially the front seven. I think defensive end Mario Addison will have another fine season.

On offense, we’ll see how the coming together of new coordinator Norv Turner, quarterback Cam Newton and the fast new fleet of receivers comes together.

Almost all of us wanted Mike Shula, Carolina’s quarterbacks coach and then offensive coordinator from 2011 through last season, to go. We don’t like coordinators much. We like them when they’re new. Then we see what they can’t do, allowing ourselves to forget that they work within the parameters of the head coach’s vision for their facet of the team.

Turner is 66 and long was one of the league’s most innovative offensive leaders. Go from training camp site to training camp site and you’ll see his work on most of them.

But is Turner, at 66, still an innovator? He resigned his last job, with the Minnesota Vikings, Nov. 2, 2016, and the Panthers hired him in January. Time away from an assignment is good for most of us. Marty Hurney, the Panthers’ general manager, stepped away from his job, and the absence has been good for him. He’ll be better this time around.

Turner should be, too. If he isn’t, you’ll be calling Prisco an optimist.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

More from this issue of the Tom Talks newsletter:

  Comments