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We already knew that the Carolina Panthers schedule was brutal. In fact, it’s the toughest in the NFL according to last year’s records. But now that is been laid out it looks even worse. Here are some thoughts:
- The Panthers start at home against Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle will be a trendy pick to get to the Super Bowl, so maybe it’s good to get them early in week one. With an extremely early bye in week four, its important to have a winning record after week three.
-week eight through twelve is a brutal stretch, playing at Tampa, Atlanta, at San Francisco, New England, and at Miami. If they come out of that with more than two wins it could be a special season.
- it’s bizarre that they don’t have a divisional game until week eight, an play four of their last five against NFC South rivals. In fact, they play the Saints in week 14 and 16, and then finish in Atlanta.
- the Panthers do get a break in terms of weather, playing at Buffalo in September, at Arizona in October, and at Miami at the end of November.
- Carolina will have to play three opponents coming off byes: at Minnesota, at San Francisco, and at home versus New England. The Niners and Patriots are back to back, meaning it’ll be extremely difficult to knock off either of them.
- Many will pick the Panthers to finish third or fourth in the division and have another losing season. If so, Ron Rivera will be replaced as head coach and QB Cam Newton will face even further scrutiny after three straight losing seasons. Both must exhibit way more leadership than they’ve shown in their current roles to overcome the expectations.