Record prediction: 7-10
Record against NFC South: 2-4
Week 1: 9/11 v Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m
No Deshaun Watson but Jacoby Brissett has enough talent around him to win this game. The Browns’ roster as a whole is much further forward than the Panthers.
Week 2: 9/18 at New York Giants, 1 p.m
This year’s trip to the Meadowlands will not be a repeat of the eyesore we saw a year ago. The Panthers are struggling to score but find a way to win the game to go 1-1 so young in the 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 hold of him since Terron Armstead is no longer in New Orleans. Also, who knows what status Alvin Kamara will have for this game?
Week 4: 10/2 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m
Matt Rhule fired Kliff Kingsbury at Texas Tech and now he’s 2-0 against him in the NFL. DeAndre Hopkins gets 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, that will change. As it stands today, Jimmy Garoppolo is still on the squad and I give San Fran a much better chance with him in the middle. This will be a low scoring affair where the first to 17 will win the game.
Week 6: 10/16. at the Los Angeles Rams, 4:05 p.m
The defending Super Bowl champions don’t have all the pieces back, but they have enough. This is a complete mismatch for the Panthers. No chance of winning this one.
Week 7: 10/23 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m
It can be argued that the Bucs have the best roster on this schedule. As long as Tom Brady is the Bucs quarterback, the Panthers won’t even split the two games per season.
Week 8: 10/30. at the 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 aren’t doing well in this duel — even if they were at home. Carolina will compete in the first three quarters or so, but Cincy will retire late.
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Week 10: 11.10. vs. Atlanta Falcons (Thursday), 8:15 p.m
As bad as the Falcons are, it’s still hard to beat a team twice, especially when you only have three days off after coming back from a tough Cincinnati team. Strange place 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 when the Panthers’ defense can force a few turnovers. I’m just not sure Sam Darnold and company will be able to capitalize on Baltimore’s mistakes.
Week 12: 11/27 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m
As you probably already know, I’m not into the Russell Wilson-run Broncos. He sure makes them a better team. But to think they’ll be a Super Bowl contender in 2022 is insane. Carolina grabs the three-game sled and returns to the win column to head into bye week.
Week 13: Bye
Week 14: 11/12 at the Seattle Seahawks, 4:25 p.m
This won’t be a “gimme” even though Seattle is expected to be that bad. It just feels ugly for both teams. I’ll side with Carolina though, if the Panthers drop this game it could be the last game Matt Rhule coaches with the organization.
Week 15: 12/18 v Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m
Two straight wins and suddenly the Panthers are feeling bold and bold. Pittsburgh won’t have a strong offense this fall, but by Week 15 they will have the quarterback situation figured out.
Week 16: 12/24 v Detroit Lions, 1 p.m
Dan Campbell will turn the Lions over, 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 actually winning the game.
Week 17: 1.1. at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m
I don’t think I need to say much here. My guess is that in Week 17 Tampa will still be battling to seed the playoffs, which means the starters won’t be held out. Bucs wins convincingly.
Week 18: 1/8 2 at 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 in the off-season.
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