NFL - US Sports: Carolina Panthers season preview
It will be a tale of three quarterbacks in Carolina this year as the Panthers try to become relevant in the NFL again after four years of mediocrity.
They pulled the trigger on a trade for unwanted Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield in a bid to spark an offense that stymied under Sam Darnold's direction last year while the intriguing draft selection of Matt Corral offers hope for the future.
After two five-win seasons, the pressure is building on head coach Matt Rhule and he desperately needs Mayfield to find his feet within new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's offense quickly.
NFL Season 2022/23
All across the USA with three games scheduled for London, one for Munich and one in Mexico City.
8th September 2022 - 12th February 2023
|How to watch:|
The vast majority of games are live and on-demand with NFL Game Pass, selected games are available via Sky Sports and Sports Live Streaming
|Odds:||CAR Panthers 151.00 BUF Bills 5.00, TB Buccaneers 11.00, KC Chiefs 7.50, LA Rams 17.00, GB Packers 10.00|
What are the Carolina Panthers' hopes for the season?
A winning record would represent enough improvement to keep faith with Rhule and, in a relatively weak NFC field this year, it may even give the Panthers an outside chance at making the playoffs.
They get to play nine of their 17 games at home and will be looking to win at least seven to stay in the hunt, but the odds appear stacked against it with Carolina a 7.25 shot to make the postseason.
Who are the Carolina Panthers' opening opponents?
Mayfield said he's willing to admit the Panthers' Week 1 matchup against his former organization, the Cleveland Browns, carries some extra "personal meaning".
Although Rhule hasn't confirmed him as the starter, he is the hot favourite to win the training camp battle and set up a quarterback duel with Jacoby Brissett, who is in line to open the season as the Browns' triggerman following Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension.
In one of six games he won as a rookie in Cleveland, Mayfield led the Browns to a Week 14 win over the Panthers at FirstEnergy Stadium.
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That was the last time that the two teams met and cut Carolina's lead in the series to 4-2 overall.
The Panthers are 1.80 on the Money Line to extend their advantage when they meet at Bank of America Stadium on 11th September with the Browns at 2.05 for the win.
When are the Carolina Panthers' key matchups?
Carolina will play four of the first five games on their schedule at home, providing a great chance to get off on the right footing.
After three winnable matchups, the season takes a tough turn in October when the Panthers will face four 2021 playoff teams in five games.
They at least get to host Arizona during Cardinals star DeAndre Hopkins' suspension, which will take a key playmaker off the board for their division rivals and it's possible that new San Francisco 49ers starting QB Trey Lance hasn't fully accilimatised to his role by the Week 5 matchup.
Carolina will hope for some meaningful games in December when they round the season out with a Christmas Eve home clash with a Detroit Lions team in a similar rebuilding phase and then a tough New Year's Eve trip to the NFC South champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Who is the Carolina Panthers' head coach?
Rhule was drafted in by Carolina in 2020 and he initially had success - overseeing an improvement of the Panthers defense which went from allowing the second-most points in 2019 to a respectable ranking of 15th a year later.
The former Temple and Baylor head coach led the Panthers to a 5-11 record in his first year, but there was no obvious progression after another five-win campaign in 2021, so the pressure is growing in Charlotte.
Which players have the Carolina Panthers signed?
QB Baker Mayfield (Cleveland Browns)
C Bradley Bozeman (Baltimore Ravens)
G Austin Corbett (Los Angeles Rams)
RB D'Onta Foreman (Tennessee Titans)
P Johnny Hekker (Los Angeles Rams)
WR Rashard Higgins (Cleveland Browns)
DT Matt Ioannidis (Washington Commanders)
LB Cory Littleton (Las Vegas Raiders)
LB Damien Wilson (Jacksonville Jaguars)
FS Xavier Woods (Minnesota Vikings)
CB Chris Westry (Baltimore Ravens)
WR Andre Roberts (Los Angeles Chargers)
Which players have left the Carolina Panthers?
CB Stephon Gilmore (Indianapolis Colts)
EDGE Haason Reddick (Philadelphia Eagles)
DL Morgan Fox (San Diego Chargers)
DL DaQuan Jones (Buffalo Bills)
OT Trenton Scott (Pittsburgh Steelers)
RB Ameer Abdullah (Las Vegas Raiders)
LB Jermaine Carter Jr. (Kansas City Chiefs)
Who are the Carolina Panthers' key players?
OT Ikem Ekwonu (1st round)
S Jeremy Chinn
After his All-Pro 2019 campaign when he became just the second-ever player to top 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in the same season, McCaffrey has been limited by injuries in the past two seasons.
But as Carolina work through their quarterback rotation to find a winning formula, CMC's ability to hit holes and move the chains will be crucial to keep the Panthers' drives going in 2022.
Speed rushing defensive end Brian Burns parlayed nine sacks into a first-ever Pro Bowl appearance last year and has emerged as a real leader of the unit and all-down player.
Jeremy Chinn could be in for a breakout season as he enters his third year in the league and now has a more productive partner at safety after the Panthers signed Xavier Woods from the Minnesota Vikings in free agency.