The NFL has released their full schedule for the 2020-21 season. Let us take a look at the opponents and give you my predictions on how the Carolina Panthers season will play out.
For now, the season will go on as scheduled, but I would not be surprised if dates and venues change due to the ever changing COVID-19 guidelines. There is a good chance that venues will be without fans for the entire season.
Enough of that, let’s talk football. The NFL certainly did not roll out the welcome mat for new head coach Matt Rhule. Carolina’s schedule is daunting. The Panthers play in what most say is the toughest division. On top of facing off twice against Brady, Brees, and Ryan, Carolina will be playing the AFC West and NFC North this season. They travel to Arrowhead and have to visit Green Bay in the cold. Then there is a Ron Rivera/Thomas Davis revenge game two days after Christmas against the Redskins.
(all times EST)
Week 1: (9/13) Home vs. Las Vegas Raiders (1pm)
For the third consecutive season the Panthers open at home. Carolina will be the first ever opponent for the Las Vegas Raiders. I think Carolina sticks around in this one, but with a lot of new faces trying to get on the same page under a new head coach, Las Vegas hold on.
Las Vegas 24
Week 2: (9/20) Away vs *Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1pm)
Enter Tom Brady. Carolina gets their first look at the vastly improved Bucs. Gronk, along with wideouts Evans and Godwin, might have a field day in this one. Just too many weapons.
Tampa Bay 33
Week 3: (9/27) Away vs Los Angeles Chargers (4:05pm)
Carolina stays on the road and makes the cross-country trek. Panthers get their first look as Justin Herbert. Even though there is a rookie under center, Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler are capable of causing damage. Another close one, another loss.
Week 4: (10/4) Home vs Arizona Cardinals (1pm)
Kyler Murray comes to town with something to prove. DeAndre Hopkins along with the ageless wonder Larry Fitzgerald may cause problems. Carolina starts off the season 0-4
Week 5: (10/11) Away vs *Atlanta Falcons (1pm)
First NFC South contest for Matt Rhule. The other Matt hands the ball off to Todd Gurley and lets him work. Can’t forget about the threat known as Julio Jones. He is tough to stop.
Week 6: (10/18) Home vs Bears (1pm)
Panthers get their first one of the season. Chicago has QB issues and Carolina is tired of losing at this point.
Week 7: (10/25) Away vs *New Orleans Saints (1pm)
Teddy Bridgewater returns. Brees will do his usual stuff and sling the ball all over the field. Superstar Micheal Thomas and veteran Emmanuel Sanders will be tough to handle.
New Orleans 32
Week 8: (10/29) Home vs *Atlanta Falcons (8:20pm)
The Panthers offense is more comfortable, and everything seems to click in this one. Carolina pulls an upset and gets their second win of the season in front of a national televised audience on Thursday Night Football
Week 9: (11/8) Away vs Kansas City Chiefs (1pm)
Not much to stay here. Mahomes and the Super Bowl defending Chiefs roll.
Kansas City 38
Week 10: (11/15) Home vs *Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1pm)
**See week 2**
Tampa Bay 33
Week 11: (11/22) Home vs Detroit Lions (1pm)
The Lions defense is a little shaky even with the addition of Jeff Okudah. Panthers D line gets after Stafford. Teddy and company have a huge day. Carolina gets their 3rd win of the season.
Week 12: (11/29) Away vs Minnesota Vikings (1pm)
After having 2 consecutive home games, the Panthers venture off to take on the Vikings. Kirk Cousins doesn’t scare me but Dalvin Cook and Adam Thielen do. Minnesota pulls it out late.
Week 13: Bye
Very late in the season, but much needed.
Week 14: (12/13) Home vs Denver Broncos (1pm)
Denver still has a stout defense and the Panthers come out flat after the Bye.
Week 15: (12/19 or 12/20) Away vs Green Bay Packers (TBD)
Aaron Rodgers is on a mission to show Green Bay he still has it after the Packers chose QB Jordan Love in this year’s draft. Lambeau in December…no thank you!
Green Bay 30
Week 16: (12/27) Away vs Washington Redskins (1pm)
Ron Rivera and Thomas Davis have this one circled. The Redskins will have motivation and Chase Young.
Week 17: (1/3) Home vs *New Orleans Saints (1pm)
Saints will be resting some players at this point and the Panthers may have vacation on their minds.
The Panthers will finish Matt Rhule’s first campaign at 3-13. There will no doubt be growing pains, but I do believe this team is headed in the right direction. Carolina will be in prime position to get a top pick in the 2021 draft. No doubt Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields will be getting a look. Building for the future will continue.