Record prediction: 7-10
Record vs NFC South: 2-4
Week 1: 9/11 vs Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m.
No Deshaun Watson, but Jacoby Brissett has enough talent around him to be able to win this game. The Browns roster as a whole is much further ahead than the Panthers.
Week 2: 9/18 at New York Giants, 1 p.m.
This year’s trip to the Meadowlands won’t be a repeat of the eyesore we saw a year ago. The Panthers struggle to score, but find a way to win the game to move to 1-1 on the young season.
Week 3: 9/25 vs New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m.
The Panthers beat the Saints when they came to town last year and I see it happening again. Jamies Winston doesn’t have much mobility and the Panthers should have some luck getting to him with Terron Armstead no longer in New Orleans. Plus, who knows what Alvin Kamara’s status for this game will be?
Week 4: 10/2 vs Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m.
Matt Rhule got Kliff Kingsbury fired at Texas Tech and now, he’s 2-0 against him in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins will be suspended for this game, so I like Carolina’s chances even more.
Week 5: 10/9 vs San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
If Trey Lance is the starting quarterback, this will change. As it stands today, Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the roster and I give San Fran a much better chance with him under center. This will be a low-scoring affair which will see the first to 17 win the game.
Week 6: 10/16 at Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m.
The Super Bowl defending champs don’t have all pieces returning, but they have enough. This is a total mismatch all the way around for the Panthers. No chance of winning this one.
Week 7: 10/23 vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
An argument can be made that the Bucs have the best roster on this schedule. As long as Tom Brady is quarterbacking the Bucs, the Panthers will fail to even do as much as split the two games per season.
Week 8: 10/30 at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m.
The Falcons are a bad team, man.
Week 9: 11/6 at Cincinnati Bengals, 1 p.m.
Much like the Bucs, the Panthers just don’t stack up well in this matchup – even if it were at home. Carolina will compete for the first three quarters or so, but Cincy will pull away late.
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Week 10: 11/10 vs Atlanta Falcons (Thursday), 8:15 p.m.
As bad as the Falcons will be, it’s still hard to beat a team twice especially when you’re only going to have three days of rest after traveling back from playing a tough Cincinnati team. Weird spot here for Carolina which is why I see Atlanta stealing one.
Week 11: 11/20 at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m.
This is a winnable game, especially if the Panthers’ defense can force a couple of turnovers. I’m just not sure Sam Darnold and company are going to be able to capitalize on Baltimore’s miscues.
Week 12: 11/27 vs Denver Broncos, 1 p.m.
As you probably already know, I’m not high on the Russell Wilson-led Broncos. He makes them a better team, sure. But to think they will be a Super Bowl contender in 2022 is craziness. Carolina snaps the three-game skid and gets back in the win column heading into the bye week.
Week 13: Bye
Week 14: 12/11 at Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m.
This one won’t be a “gimme” despite how bad Seattle is expected to be. This just has an ugly feeling to it for both teams. I’ll side with Carolina, however, if the Panthers drop this one, it could be the final game Matt Rhule coaches with the organization.
Week 15: 12/18 vs Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m.
Two wins in a row and all of a sudden the Panthers are feeling fat and sassy. Pittsburgh won’t have a potent offense this fall, but by Week 15 they’ll have the quarterback situation figured out.
Week 16: 12/24 vs Detroit Lions, 1 p.m.
Dan Campbell is going to turn the Lions around, but they’re still a few years away. Detroit will give Carolina a competitive game for maybe a half or so. The lack of offensive firepower will prevent them from having a chance to actually win the game.
Week 17: 1/1 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m.
I don’t think I need to say much here. I expect Tampa to still be fighting for playoff seeding in Week 17, meaning the starters will not be held out. Bucs win convincingly.
Week 18: 1/8 2at New Orleans Saints, TBD
Carolina ends the season on a two-game losing streak and it’s another ugly loss to New Orleans. Once again, Matt Rhule’s future will be uncertain heading into the offseason.
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