The Carolina Panthers 2012 schedule has been released and it has not been kind to the Carolina Panthers. As ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas points out, the Panthers have the NFC South’s toughest schedule based on opponents 2011 overall records. Here is the schedule, courtesy of ESPN.
Panthers Regular-Season Schedule (All times ET)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Tampa Bay, 4:15 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, New Orleans, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Thursday, Sept. 20, N.Y. Giants, 8:20 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Seattle, 4:05 PM
Week 6: BYE
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, at Chicago, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, Tampa Bay, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Monday, Nov. 26, at Philadelphia, 8:30 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Atlanta, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, at San Diego, 4:05 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, Oakland, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at New Orleans, 1:00 PM
It is very possible that the Panthers season could be decided before their bye in week 6. While the Panthers are sure to be competitive one again, all it takes is a slow start and they could be looking at an 0-3 divisional record within the first four weeks. On the flip side, a quick start could give them a very nice cushion. A quick start would remove pressure on Cam Newton while allowing him time to settle in and gain momentum as the season wares on. No matter which way things go, the first four weeks will be pivotal.
As with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Panthers focus on running the ball sets up well for their schedule. Only three of their opponents were among the top ten in run defense, and Carolina made offensive line and running back their sole purpose in free agency. Now with a three headed monster in the backfield and Cam Newton at the helm, there is no doubt Carolina will be among the league leaders in rushing. The question becomes if they can improve on the leagues 28th ranked defense.