Something strange happened during the offseason between 2012 and 2013 to the Carolina Panthers.
After finishing the 2012 campaign with the 10th-ranked defense in the NFL and finishing with a 7-9 record, the Panthers assembled a secondary piecemeal and drafted two top-notch defensive tackles to help stop the run.
The result was one of the best defenses in the league in 2013, and a division championship followed.
Carolina moved from 7-9 to 12-4 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Heck, the Panthers enjoyed their first winning record since 2008 and made it above .500 for the first time in five seasons in Week 8.
Head coach Ron Rivera went from the hot seat to the catbird seat.
The offseason between 2013 and 2014 hasn’t gone as well, at least it doesn’t appear it has.
Carolina’s entire wide receiver corps is elsewhere, quarterback Cam Newton required offseason ankle surgery (he’s expected to be ready for training camp) and the offensive line is in shambles after offensive tackle Jordan Gross and a host of others retired.
Will the 2014 season look more like 7-9 or 12-4?
Here is a look at the complete 2014 Panthers schedule with game-by-game analysis and predictions.