The Carolina Panthers will be looking to advance to the playoffs for the first time in five years in 2022, with former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield directing the offense this season. The Panthers' road to the postseason will not be easy, with the New Orleans Saints and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also residing in the NFC South Division.
Head coach Matt Rhule is in his third year with the Panthers and desperately needs a winning season after two woeful campaigns. We’d expect the Panthers to be underdogs when it comes to betting on NFL games for a lot of the season, but they have the potential to cause an upset so might be worth a look. The Panthers will butt heads against the Cleveland Browns in the season-opening contest before dates with the Saints and the New York Giants.
Carolina began the 2021 season with three straight wins before the wheels fell off, and the Panthers managed just two victories in their final 14 games to end the season with a 5-12 record. Injury-prone star running back Christian McCaffrey missed ten games, and the lack of a competent starting quarterback was too much for Carolina to overcome last year.
Mayfield will lead an offensive unit with a pair of big-play receivers in DJ Moore and Robbie Anderson. But the key to the offense's success will depend on the health of McCaffrey, who has only suited up in ten games since 2020 after signing a $64 million contract. Running back Chuba Hubbard scored five touchdowns last season and will share backfield duties with McCaffrey.
The Panthers have quietly built a stout defense stocked with young playmakers. Pro Bowl defensive end Brain Burns has enjoyed back-to-back banner campaigns, and linebacker Shaq Thompson is a tackling machine that has posted more than 100 tackles in three straight seasons. Carolina also has an impressive secondary with rising stars Donte Jackson, Jeremy Chinn, and Jaycee Horn.
The Panthers were established as the league's 29th franchise in 1993 and began to play two years later in 1995. Carolina posted a 7-9 record in their inaugural season, which was the best for an NFL expansion team's debut season. The Panthers won the NFC West title with a 12-4 mark in 1996 and reached the NFC Championship Game. However, the franchise did not have another winning season until 2003.
The home field of the Panthers is Bank of America Stadium, a football-only stadium with artificial turf with a capacity of 74,867.
Carolina's two most significant rivalries in recent years are the Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons. The Panthers lead the all-time series with Tampa Bay, 24-19, but the Buccaneers have won six of the past seven meetings. The Falcons lead the all-time series, 34-20, and have won seven of the past nine meetings.