The Carolina Panthers mercifully wrapped up their 2021 campaign with their seventh straight loss. But did we wrap our 2021 predictions series with a bit more success?
Let’s take it home . . .
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.
Outcome: Incorrect. We officially finish 9-2 when trying to forecast the coin toss.
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.
Outcome: Correct. It wasn’t a Newton touchdown, but Sam Darnold led the Panthers on a 14-play, 75-yard drive into the end zone. The touch concluded with a 2-yard pass to running back Chuba Hubbard.
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.
Outcome: Incorrect. Like the week prior, Newton was on the field for just one snap. That equates to one percent for No. 1, who’ve should seen at least a little more action.
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.
Outcome: Correct. The Panthers can perhaps take solace in now being the only team in NFL history to not allow an opening-drive touchdown through an entire 17-game season. Tampa Bay went three-and-out.
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.
Outcome: Correct. In taking aim at a possible fourth MVP award, Brady ended the season on a high note with 326 yards and three scores.
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.
Outcome: Incorrect. Grayson left this one early with a hamstring injury. Tight end Rob Gronkowsi paced the way instead, reeling in seven throws for a game-high 137 yards.
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.
Outcome: Correct. Moore racked up 87 yards on seven grabs of his own. He’s also racked up his third straight 1,000-yard campaign.
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.
Outcome: Incorrect. In addition to the touchdown pass to Hubbard, Darnold also found wideout Robby Anderson on a beautiful 19-yard completion to the end zone. Darnold finished the year having completed 29 of his 42 throws for 219 yards and . . .
. . . and two interceptions
And why not? Let’s top it all off with a patented multi-turnover game for Sam.
Outcome: Incorrect. Darnold threw just one pick. That landed into the waiting arms of safety Andrew Adams 16 yards downfield. Sam did, though, have two turnovers with an earlier fumble.
The Panthers will head into what’ll be an awkward offseason on a seven-game skid.
Outcome: Correct. They did, indeed, lose—41-17.