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Why you should bet the over on the Carolina Panthers 2019 win total

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The Panthers have a pattern of good seasons. That combined with a healthy Cam Newton offers plenty of support for betting the over on their 2019 win total.

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton greets head coach Ron Rivera prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver, Colorado on September 8, 2016. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As we march towards the beginning of the NFL regular season, it’s time to explore some NFL win totals that I like for the season. I’ve made my thoughts clear on my love for the Ravens under 8.5 wins all offseason, but I have a few more that I’m itching to bet (or have bet already).

We will start with the team in my city, the Carolina Panthers.

I was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in 2008, played four seasons for the team, and make my home in Charlotte. I’ve followed this organization closely since my retirement and I feel like I’ve got a good pulse on their franchise. The Panthers are an organization that’s never had back-to-back winning seasons, but have bee to two Super Bowls — losing close games both times. When they are good, they’ve been really good.

Ron Rivera took over a 2-14 team in 2011 and was 6-10 his first season with rookie quarterback Cam Newton. The following year, the progress was slow, finishing the season with a 7-9 record. After that, it’s been a yo-yo. 12, 15 and 11 wins in the odd years and 7, 6, 7 in the even years. Last season, it seemed that trend might have stopped. The Panthers started 6-2 and were rolling. Then came Thursday Night Football in Pittsburgh. Newton was hit awkwardly in his shoulder by TJ Watt and he re-injured it. Newton and the offense struggled the rest of the season. Couple that with some issues on defense, and the Panthers lost seven in a row before winning a Week 17 throwaway game against the Saints. They finished 7-9 and didn’t buck the winning/losing season streak trend.

So, looking ahead to 2019, I see the Panthers as an undervalued team. Their Vegas win total is too low, as they are extremely talented and presumably have a healthy Cam Newton. This season all hinges on Cam’s shoulder — a bet I’m willing to take. Cam has shown a slightly new throwing motion and with an improved offensive line, he should stay upright. The Panthers have beefed up their offensive line with additions in the draft over the past two season — Taylor Moton in 2018 and Greg Little in the second round this past season. Both players have potential and should make an impact this season. Former All Pro right tackle Daryl Williams is back from injury, and the Panthers signed Matt Paradis to replace Ryan Kalil.

The best offensive weapon for Cam Newton during his career has been Greg Olson, who’s also back from injury and looking healthy in camp. All purpose back Christian McCaffrey is near unstoppable in this offense and D.J. Moore had an impactful rookie season. The Panthers are primed for success on offense.

Defensively, the Panthers took some steps backwards last season until Ron Rivera took back control of that unit. This season, it’s Ron’s baby again. We know Ron Rivera can coach defense and I expect a monster improvement in that unit. They are switching schemes, which isn’t a big concern. They added Gerald McCoy to pair with Kawann Short, Dontari Poe and Vernon Butler on the inside. They drafted Brian Burns from Florida State to add some pressure on the edges. We know Luke Kuechly is as good as they come inside. There are some concerns on the back end of the defense, but I trust Ron Rivera to get these guys up to speed.

If you want some numbers on the Panthers possible improvement, there’s no one better to read than Bill Barnwell. He included the Panthers in his preview of five teams that could make a jump this season. It is all right here.

One thing that stood out to me in Bill’s work was the record of the team over the years in one-score games. Just like the yo-yo in records year to year, they will yo-yo in results in one-score games. Just like the trend shows, this season they are due for a regression to the mean. Over the last seven seasons, they’ve had at least seven games within a score, which is normal for the NFL. Last season, it was nine, and they finished 2-7 in those games, with most of those losses happening during their losing streak when Cam was beat up. While I won’t assume they go 6-1 in the seven close games this season, it’s safe to assume they will be 4-3, or 5-3, or even 6-3 in close games. That alone will get them over the 7.5 wins.

The NFC South is a tough division. I like the Falcons and I expect the Bucs to be better with Bruce Arians at the helm. The Saints will be talented, but I think they take a small step back. In that void, the Panthers step up. Take the Panthers over 7.5 wins.