Carolina Panthers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, California
by Scott, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR -5/SF +5
Over/Under Total: 48
The Carolina Panthers make the trip out west to Levis Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers in week one Sunday action. The Niners are under new leadership with Kyle Shanahan moving over from Atlanta to help get San Fran back on the right track. After a 2-14 season, it wont be easy and he has a small percentage of the tools that were at his disposal running the Atlanta offense. Carolina is also trying to clear the room of the stink left over from last season, where a 6-10 season saw a precipitous fall-off from their 15-1 Super Bowl team of the previous season.
Not a lot went right for the Panthers last season. There was a lot of complacency, injuries, and bad breaks. Still, six of their losses were by 3 or fewer points, meaning they werent that far off. The offense looks for better results overall and looks for more from some individuals who need to upgrade their form in 2017. Cam Newton had shoulder surgery and might be better in the long-run as a result, but he got very little work in the preseason and whether hes ready to hit the ground running remains to be seen.
Other guys on the Carolina offense who need to get better are RB Jonathan Stewart and WR Kelvin Benjamin. Offering more hope is the arrival of a couple rookies in Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel. Youd figure thats going to help, but well see. It also wouldnt hurt if Devin Funchess started realizing his potential. But TE Greg Olsen is as reliable as they come and should have another big season. An intact line adds a useful piece in rookie Taylor Moton and should be better, as well.
With former Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott off to coach the Bills, the Panthers bring in Steve Wilks as coordinator. He has a lot of tools with which to work. Up-front, they add still-useful Julius Peppers. Mario Addison is at one end, with Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, they can stop the run and have a lot of depth in this area. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis , along with growing Shaq Thompson make up a vicious second level. Look for continued growth from the cornerback position with youngsters Daryl Worley and James Bradberry. Mike Adams and Kurt Coleman lead the way at safety, along with Captain Munnerlyn. They could be a little better after issues in 2016.
Shanahan doesnt have the tools needed for an overnight change with the Niners, but expect his handiwork to at least help not make the San Francisco offense a veritable laughingstock. Brian Hoyer might not be the QB of their future, but he is a capable guy who still has some explorable upside that Shanahan could tap into. You figure theyll get better play at the position than theyve gotten the past few seasons. And pass-catchers like Pierre Garcon, Marquis Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, and Aldrick Robinson have more potential than the pedestrian aerial attack San Francisco has featured the last few seasons. Still, the lack of overall playmaking ability does stand out.
The 49ers added FB Kyle Jusczyzk and Tim Hightower, which should boost the backfield, which is led by Carlos Hydenot a bad player when healthy. The offensive line could be a team asset. Center Daniel Kilgore, G Zane Beadles, and T Joe Staley are very good and with Trent Brown at right tackle and G Brandon Fusco, things could start to come around with this offense in 2017.
Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has his work cut out with a Frisco defense that has regressed remarkably in just the course of a few seasons. They were the last-ranked defense in the league last season and look for more after switching to an attacking 4-3 base defense. Some new pieces could give them a different look, First-round picks DE Solomon Thomas and LB Reuben Foster should help the front seven. NaVorro Bowman still patrolling the middle and that could be a team asset. Up front, the middle is manned by DeForest Buckner and Earl Mitchell, with Arik Armstead at one end. The secondary will move Eric Reid to strong safety, with Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson at the corners. Granted, its not a terribly exciting group and a lot of remaining pieces were ineffective last season. But help is on the way and under new leadership, should see at least a slight surge in 17. They dont look like a great defense, but they dont look like the worst in the NFL, either, as they were last season.
Granted, the 49ers are lacking in terms of overall talent on both sides of the ball, but yesterdays cries can turn into future smiles and all the good draft positions could start paying off this season. Carolina, however, looks for a fresh start and hopes to reclaim their 2015 form. Some improved playmaking and better health should have them in the playoff hunt this season. But with Newton maybe not ready to take full-flight, Carolina is not a team built to get much separation from their opponents. Well take the home dog.
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