The Carolina Panthers may not have been a pleasure to watch in 2021, but it was certainly ours to have taken the ride with you. So, let’s try to end on a high note and keep our season’s prediction tally over that .500 mark.
Here’s how we see the Week 18 finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers going down.
Panthers win coin toss
We put our prized baby to bed here, one that’s given us nine wins in 10 tries, by predicting a flip in favor of Carolina.
Panthers score a touchdown on their opening drive
The Panthers cracked the Bucs for three points on their first touch in the Week 16 matchup. They up the output and reach the end zone on a Cam Newton rushing score.
Cam Newton plays at least 10 percent of the snaps
Speaking of Newton, this could be his last game as a Panther. Perhaps he’s not your flavor of head coach, but Matt Rhule certainly has a good heart in there somewhere. He gives Cam much more than the one snap he got last Sunday.
Buccaneers don’t score on their opening drive
Carolina is still the only team in the NFL not to allow a touchdown to the opposition on their opening drive. It stays that way after Tom Brady’s offense moves the chains just once.
Tom Brady finishes with at least 275 passing yards
Brady didn’t serve up his best dish in at Bank of America Stadium two weeks back, baking up just 232 yards and one touchdown while completing 18 of his 30 throws. But, with a depleted Panthers secondary likely void of Stephon Gilmore, he amps it up.
Cyril Grayson leads the Buccaneers in receiving
Since we’re on the topic of voids, Antonio Brown leaves one behind after his tenure with Tampa was flushed down the toilet this past week. That’ll help give way to more chances for Grayson, who’s impressed with a pair of 81-yard outings over the last two games.
DJ Moore leads the Panthers in receiving
This isn’t much of a reach, but who’s really going to be left in that receiving corp? Terrace Marshall Jr. was placed on the injured reserve, Shi Smith isn’t expected to come off the reserve/COVID-19 list and Robby Anderson will be a game-time decision after sitting out the whole week of practice.
Sam Darnold finishes with zero touchdowns
Darnold hasn’t reached the end zone in five weeks now. Nothing—not his play, not his offensive line’s stability, not the group as a whole—indicates he’ll certainly snap that ugly run.
. . . and two interceptions
And why not? Let’s top it all off with a patented multi-turnover game for Sam.
The Panthers will head into what’ll be an awkward offseason on a seven-game skid.