2012 NFL Predictions: Carolina Panthers' Win Total a Hot Topic in Sin City

Jeff Grant@@JeffGrantSportsContributor IMay 23, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 11:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after throwing a touchdown against the Atlanta Falcons during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton will provide the hype, but will he deliver eight or more wins for the franchise during the 2012 NFL season.

Cantor Gaming of Las Vegas opened some eyes on Wednesday morning, sending out the Panthers regular-season win total at 7.5, which was a notch below the earliest number available in the NFL futures market.

There's no doubt in my mind that the oddsmaker is expecting early action to land on the "over" in this proposition offering—the only real question is if the sports book will be forced to move the number higher before the team opens up the season on the road against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sept. 9.

Newton directed an offense that finished third in rushing and 13th in passing in the NFL, leading to a respectable 6-10 record, which resulted in a four-game improvement from a forgettable 2010 campaign. He will now be focused on avoiding a sophomore slump.

The key factor in handicapping this total is trying to predict if the team will improve upon its 2-4 mark against divisional opponents out of the NFC South, winning both games against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while getting swept by the Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints.

From the looks of it, a playoff run isn't in the cards until 2013.

Follow on Twitter: @JeffGrantSports 

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