Despite a dominant defensive effort in Super Bowl 50, the favored Carolina Panthers were upset by the Denver Broncos 24-10. Carolina led the league with 500 points but was held to its fewest of the season, while Denver’s 194 yards gained were the fewest by a Super Bowl winner. Already there are betting tips out for the 2016 NFL regular season and Carolina is a second-favorite at 6.0000 to repeat as NFC champion. Seattle is the 5.5000 favorite.
PANTHERS’ OFFSEASON QUESTIONS
If there are two places Carolina will look to upgrade most, it’s at receiver and the offensive line. The seven sacks suffered by the Panthers in Super Bowl 50 (six of Cam Newton, one of Ted Ginn Jr.) were the most they had allowed this season. So, too, were the four turnovers. The Panthers were held to 10 points, their lowest total of a season in which they led the NFL in scoring. They had reached 20 points in all but one of their 18 games (13 in their lone regular season loss to Atlanta in Week 16).
The receiving group should be bolstered by the return of the team’s top guy in 2014, that year’s first-round pick Kelvin Benjamin. He missed all of this season after tearing knee ligaments in training camp. In his rookie season, Benjamin totaled 73 receptions, 1,008 receiving yards, nine receiving touchdowns, and a 13.8 yards per reception average.
Defensively, the Panthers must sign Pro Bowl cornerback Josh Norman, who could become a free agent if the team doesn’t slap the franchise tag on him. Norman, who returned two of his four interceptions for touchdowns during the regular season, turned down an extension prior to the season that would have paid him more than $7 million a year. He likely will demand $10 million to $14 million annually with a new deal.
The defense should again be one of the NFL’s best, and look for a breakout season from young end Kony Ealy. He tied the individual Super Bowl sack record with three sacks. He now shares the mark with Reggie White of the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI and Darnell Dockett of the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. Ealy also became the first player in Super Bowl history to record multiple sacks and an interception in the same game. He is the first player since Leslie O’Neal of the San Diego Chargers (on Jan. 2, 1993 vs. Kansas City) with multiple sacks, an interception and a forced fumble in a postseason game.
Carolina is 11.0000 on betting tips to win Super Bowl LI in Houston next February. History says that won’t happen. No team in the past 43 seasons has lost the Super Bowl and come back to win it the next season. The 1972 Miami Dolphins were the last team to accomplish this. No team since the 1993 Buffalo Bills lost the Super Bowl and even made it back the following year.
In the past 43 seasons, the loser of the Super Bowl has made it back to the game five times: 1974 Minnesota Vikings; 1987 Denver Broncos, and the Bills in 1991, 1992 and 1993. Only four Super Bowl losers have even made it back to the conference championship game the following season in that stretch 1977 Vikings, 1985 Dolphins, 2012 New England Patriots and 2013 San Francisco 49ers.
Seattle lost last year’s Super Bowl and was beaten by Carolina in this season’s divisional round of the playoffs.
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