The overhaul of the Carolina Panthers was set in motion last October when the club handed head coach Matt Rhule $40 million to piss off and traded away star Christian McCaffrey.
The Panthers enter 2023 with that new car smell: a new head coach in Frank Reich, new offensive and defensive coordinators, and a new face of the franchise in No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young. However the NFL futures odds aren't in Carolina's favor
That rebuild has the NFL odds on the fence about Carolina’s place in the NFC. The season win total says 7.5 victories with a lean to the Over while the look-ahead lines pegged the Panthers as favorites in just four games with three other lines at a pick’em.
New doesn’t always mean good and this offense may be far from that, putting stress on a constantly undervalued defense that is getting a shake up of its own, switching to a 3-4 scheme.
I kick the tires on all things “new” including Super Bowl odds with my 2023 Carolina Panthers NFL betting preview.
Carolina Panthers futures odds
|Win Super Bowl||+8,000||+6,00||+7,000|
Best futures bet: Under 7.5 wins (+100)
Lost in the shuffle of the Panthers was one of the best bets down the stretch of 2022. Carolina finished the final 11 games of the schedule 8-3 ATS, thanks in large part to Sam Darnold. It’s true. Stop laughing…
Darnold started the final six outings and instantly connected with WR D.J. Moore, making the Panthers the seventh-best offense in terms of EPA per play from Week 12 onward. Darnold ranked Top 10 in a bunch of advanced QB metrics in that span as well.
Whelp, that didn’t matter. It’s pretty much a clean slate for this offense, which is bound to struggle considering its QB situation. Andy Dalton or Bryce Young under center doesn’t exactly get the blood pumping.
The Panthers’ season win total of 7.5 has a lot to do with the strength of schedule in 2023. Carolina faces a softer division with the NFC South in a down year and then crosses conferences to play the AFC South — another cupcake group.
But within that 27th-ranked SOS there are plenty of situational snags for a team in transition. The Panthers open with a road-centric slate before a Week 7 bye and then play another travel-plagued calendar come November and December. They also encounter top-half teams like Seattle, Minnesota, Detroit, Miami, Dallas, and Jacksonville.
This team could be winless before its two best shots at victory — vs. Houston and at Indianapolis in Week 8 and Week 9. There’s no way they’re getting to eight victories.
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Carolina Panthers betting overview
What will win bets: Defense
This stop unit has been undervalued for a while now and the shenanigans on offense have ruined some of the better seasons for this group.
Carolina’s defense spent more time on the field than any other unit in 2022 (31:33) and that dulled all the dangerous edges and barbs. The pass rush was stagnant, recording only 35 sacks on a 19.8% pressure rate despite blitzing at the ninth-highest clip, and the Panthers posted only 17 total takeaways.
New defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero is making the move to the 3-4 formation to cause more chaos and has plenty of pass rushers capable of closing in on QBs, namely Brian Burns and Derrick Brown. An uptick in pressure helps a deep and talented secondary meet its potential – or at least stir up some game-changing plays.
The Panthers’ schedule sends them plenty of pop-gun attacks, with nine opponents trotting out new starters at quarterback – either rookies, second-year QBs, or declining vets. Carolina has the defensive chops to keep bettors within striking distance.
What will lose bets: Offense
It all begins under center, where Carolina says rookie Bryce Young is the starter as we close in on Week 1. Veteran Andy Dalton is the backup and a road-hefty sked will test Young’s mettle, leaving me to think we’ll see the Red Rocket at some point early on.
Around the QB is a ho-hum group of skill players. Running back Miles Sanders was one of the uninspired additions this offseason, along with veteran slot receiver Adam Thielen and WR DJ Chark. I’m still stunned Carolina dealt D.J. Moore to Chicago to move up in the draft. Dumb.
The offensive line is the anchor of this offense, with everyone returning for a group that made leaps and bounds last season. The Panthers’ run block sat No. 9 in adjusted line yards and the pass protection allowed 36 total sacks and just a 20% pressure rate when Darnold was under center.
Look-ahead totals don’t expect much from the Panthers’ offense in 2023, with an average Over/Under of 41 points. And when you start mixing in the new systems of coordinator Thomas Brown and the baptism by fire for Young, we’re right back to a dismal offense not being able to give the defense a rest.
Carolina Panthers 2023 schedule
|1||@ Atlanta Falcons||+3|
|2||vs New Orleans Saints||+1|
|3||@ Seattle Seahawks||+4|
|4||vs Minnesota Vikings||+1.5|
|5||@ Detroit Lions||+5|
|6||@ Miami Dolphins||+7|
|8||vs Houston Texans||-3|
|9||vs Indianapolis Colts||-2.5|
|10||@ Chicago Bears||+2|
|11||vs Dallas Cowboys||+3.5|
|12||@ Tennessee Titans||+1|
|13||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers||+1|
|14||@ New Orleans Saints||+3.5|
|15||vs Atlanta Falcons||-1|
|16||vs Green Bay Packers||+1|
|17||@ Jacksonville Jaguars||+5|
|18||vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-2.5|
Spreads courtesy of DraftKings sportsbook.
Don’t let the strength of schedule ratings fool you. Carolina will feel the crunch in 2023.
The Panthers play what is being measured as the 27th toughest slate, but the opening six weeks send this team away from Charlotte four times, including back-to-back roadies with offensive powers Detroit and Miami. That’s not a great learning environment for brand new systems on both sides of the ball.
Even after a Week 7 bye, Carolina has a stretch of four road games in five weeks and three straight away from home from Weeks 12 to 14. Last season, the Panthers were 2-6 SU and 4-4 ATS as visitors, giving up 24.5 points to host teams.
Preseason projections contrast each other, with the win total leaning to eight victories and the look-ahead lines giving Carolina maybe six wins… maybe (four as fave with three pick’ems). That has the Panthers placed 23rd in my NFL power ratings (38.27/100) which has them ahead of only Tampa Bay (31st) in the division.
If you took in the Atlanta Falcons betting preview, you know the betting markets are hot for the ATL in 2023 and the Falcons are laying a field goal versus Carolina at home in Week 1. My ratings pump out a spread closer to Panthers +5, but you can take that down a touch with divisional rivals.
All those road games do give Carolina a friendlier finish to 2023, with three of the final four games inside Bank of American Stadium. The Panthers are favorites in two of those final four contests with one other line at a pick’em (and +6 at Jacksonville).
Carolina Panthers schedule spot bet
Week 6: @ Miami
This trip to South Beach on October 15 is a sloppy schedule spot for Carolina with so many prickles to pick from.
First, traveling to Miami in hurricane season, so humidity, rain, wind, and whatever else could be a factor. This will be the Panthers’ second straight road game, its third road game in four weeks, and its fourth road game in the first six outings of 2023.
And with a Monday night matchup versus New Orleans in Week 2, Carolina is playing its fifth game in 27 days with a ton of travel in between. That means far less free time for practice or opportunities to tighten the bolts on a pair of brand-new playbooks.
What’s more, the spreads say Carolina could be 0-5 or 1-4 SU by the time it gets to Miami. A bye week awaits in Week 7, setting up a potential look-ahead spot for a downtrodden team dying for a break from losing football.
The early odds have the Dolphins as touchdown favorites while my NFL rating produced a spread of Miami -8 before any tinkering or adjustments for the Panthers’ situational sandwich.
Star power: Bryce Young props
|Pass yards leader||+8,000||+8,000||+10,000|
|Pass TD leader||+7,500||+6,000||+7,500|
|O22.5 pass TD||+120||-112*||+115|
|U22.5 pass TD||-140||-112*||-145|
|Pass yards total||3,400.5||3,250.5||3,275.5|
*Pass TD total is 19.5 at FanDuel
Best prop: Under 22.5 Touchdown Passes (-140)
Young is QB1 for Carolina, which means many preseason projections had to adjust their forecasts considering it looked like Dalton would be under center to start the season. Even with Young getting the nod, full-season models aren’t expecting a ton of passing touchdowns for the former Heisman winner.
His ceiling is 22 TDs while the consensus from most models is 19.5 touchdowns. Comparing that to other rookie passers, we see fellow Crimson Tide alum Mac Jones had 22 touchdown passes in 17 games in 2021. I believe we could see Dalton along the way, taking away those reps from Young.
His best red-zone threats are the aging Thielen and tight end Hayden Hurst, who had just two touchdowns in 13 games in Cincinnati last season. The 5-foot-10 Young – and that might be generous – could have a tough time seeing over the line of scrimmage in those red-zone spots and may opt to run it himself.
Carolina Panthers betting insights
Passing game in fluxBy Josh Inglis
Covers Betting Analyst
It’s hard to trust a team that will be rolling with a new head coach, offensive coordinator, and quarterback. With Frank Reich and his old-school ways calling the plays coupled with a poor pass-catching group, there is not a lot to like about this offense. Carolina's strength of schedule is about as easy as it gets, but this is priced into everything.
It could be a low-volume passing attack as Reich and the Panthers lean on the rush with a schedule that should allow for a run-heavy game script. Adam Thielen is 33 years old, averaged just 10 yards per grab with a Top-3 passing team in Minnesota last year, and has some competition with Terrace Marshall Jr.
Injuries are a concern, but volume and efficiency could be missing in this Carolina passing attack with Bryce Young’s production in Year 1 a giant question mark. I like the Unders on both Thielen’s Under 55.5 receptions and DJ Chark’s Under 675.5 receiving yards heading into the season.
One step forwardBy Joe Osborne
Covers Senior Betting Analyst
Unlike most early first-round draft picks, Bryce Young is entering a decent situation that could allow him to thrive right off the bat. He’ll play behind a decent offensive line, and this looks like a strong QB and head coach pairing as Frank Reich hits the reset button on his coaching career. Reich got a bit of a raw deal in Indianapolis after Andrew Luck’s retirement led to an unexpected revolving door at QB, and I think he’ll find long-term success with his hand-chosen quarterback this time around.
Expect a step in the right direction for Carolina this season as it can take advantage of an easy schedule, plus the NFC South is incredibly wide open. The Over on its win total of 7.5 looks like a nice bargain when you consider it’s only a one-win improvement from last season.
Carolina Panthers trend to know
With a regime change in 2023 and the Panthers shuffling through interims and Matt Rhule since Ron Rivera was cast off in 2019, there aren’t many long-term trends with teeth that we can apply to the Frank Reich-led version.
For what it’s worth, however, the Under is a hot bet in divisional home games for the franchise for the past seven seasons. Carolina has gone a collective 6-15 Over/Under (71% Unders) when hosting a NFC South rival, including a 2-7 O/U count the last three years and a perfect 0-3 O/U in 2022.
Panthers divisional home games
- Week 2 vs. New Orleans (42 O/U)
- Week 15 vs. Atlanta (40.5 O/U)
- Week 18 vs. Tampa Bay (36.5 O/U)