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Can Rhule turn it around in Carolina? Sportsbooks juicing up Panthers Over 5.5 win total

May 31, 2020 12:55 AM

For months now, NFL fans have wondered where former Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will land in free agency. If Saturday's report is true, don't expect an answer anytime soon. 

According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the 2015 MVP, 2010 Heisman winner and 2011 No. 1 overall pick is expected to "take his time" selecting a new team. Rumors are swirling that Newton is unwilling to accept a backup role and there just aren't many teams interested in him at this point. 

The Patriots remain a slight favorite to sign Newton at DraftKings. Here are the updated odds to land Cam.

Patriots + 400

Steelers + 600

Redskins + 700

Cardinals/Ravens + 800

Lions/Seahawks + 1000

Broncos/Jags + 1200

With Newton no longer in the fold, what can we expect from the new-look Panthers in 2020? 

Carolina is coming off a disappointing 2019 in which they started the season 4-2 but then went 1-9 the rest of way to finish 5-11. The Panthers ended the season on an 8-game losing streak and fired longtime head coach Ron Rivera after Week 13. 

It's been a busy offseason for Carolina. First they hired Matt Rhule to take over as head coach. Rhule was known as miracle worker in college, turning lackluster programs into contenders in short order. In four years at Temple, Rhule went 2-10 his first year, then 6-6, 10-4 and 10-3. Most recently, he went 1-11 in his first year at Baylor, then 7-6 and 11-3. Rhule also brought Joe Brady with him to be the Panthers' offensive coordinator. Brady was the passing game coordinator at LSU last season, helping the Tigers win the National Championship and Joe Burrow win the Heisman. 

In free agency, Carolina beefed up their offense by signing Teddy Bridgewater to be their starting quarterback and then adding former Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson. With Bridgewater and Anderson joining all-world running back Christian McCaffrey and wide receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, the Panthers could possess an underrated and potent offense in 2020. 

In the draft, Carolina spent all seven picks on defensive players, led by former Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown at 7th overall. The Panthers also added Penn State defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn, both in the second round.

After finishing 5-11 last season, oddsmakers have set Carolina's 2020 win total at 5.5 across the board. Nearly every book is juicing up the over, signaling a combination of smart money and house liability on a 6-10 or better campaign for the Panthers. 

Circa Sports is hanging the over 5.5 at -125 (under + 105). DraftKings is over 5.5 at -115 (under -106). FanDuel is over 5.5 at -130 (under + 110). PointsBet is over 5.5 at -136 (under + 115). 

Carolina is tied with the Chiefs for the 14th-easiest schedule in 2020. The Panthers' opponents went a combined 127-127-2 last season (.500). 

Here is the full Carolina schedule

Week 1: vs Raiders

Week 2: at Bucs

Week 3: at Chargers

Week 4: vs Cardinals

Week 5: at Falcons

Week 6: vs Bears

Week 7: at Saints

Week 8: vs Falcons

Week 9: at Chiefs

Week 10: vs Bucs

Week 11: vs Lions

Week 12: at Vikings

Week 13: Bye

Week 14: vs Broncos

Week 15: at Packers

Week 16: at Redskins

Week 17: vs Saints

Don't expect Carolina to make the playoffs in Rhule's first season. The Panthers are -835 favorites to miss the postseason at DraftKings and + 550 dogs to make the postseason.

Carolina is a massive + 2000 longshot to win the NFC South. The Saints are the favorite to win the division at -134, followed by the Bucs + 160 and Falcons + 900.

The Panthers are + 5000 to win the NFC, tied with the Redskins for the worst odds overall. Carolina is + 10000 to win the Super Bowl, tied with the Bengals and Redskins. Only the Jaguars have worse Super Bowl odds (+ 15000). 

In terms of player props, McCaffrey's over/under rushing yards is set at 1,150.5 at DraftKings. His combined rushing and receiving yards is 1,999.5 at FanDuel. His combined rushing and receiving touchdowns is 13.5. 

Last season McCaffrey finished with 1,387 rushing yards, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 combined touchdowns. 

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