The schedule for the 2014 NFL season has been released and the Carolina Panthers are now able to see the task at hand for them as they look to capitalize off of what was a surprising and monster season in 2013. There’s no doubt that Carolina will be looking to repeat or improve on their 12-4 record from last season and definitely get past the divisional round of the playoffs this years. Here’s their schedule in its entirety:
Week 1: @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday Sept. 7, 4:25 p.m. EST
Week 2: vs. Detroit Lions, Sunday Sept. 14, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 3: vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday Sept. 21, 8:30 p.m. EST
Week 4: @ Baltimore Ravens, Sunday Sept. 28, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 5: vs. Chicago Bears, Sunday Oct. 5, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 6: @ Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday Oct. 12, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 7: @ Green Bay Packers, Sunday Oct. 19, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 8: vs. Seattle Seahawks, Sunday Oct. 26, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 9: vs. New Orleans Saints, Thursday Oct. 30, 8:25 p.m. EST
Week 10: @ Philadelphia Eagles, Monday Nov. 10, 8:30 p.m. EST
Week 11: vs. Atlanta Falcons, Sunday Nov. 16, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: @ Minnesota Vikings, Sunday Nov. 30, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 14: @ New Orleans Saints, Sunday Dec. 7, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 15: vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sunday Dec. 14, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 16: vs. Cleveland Browns, Sunday Dec. 21, 1:00 p.m. EST
Week 17: @ Atlanta Falcons, Sunday Dec. 28, 1:00 p.m. EST
The Panthers have the opportunity to start out the year with a solid record. In the first five weeks of action, the Panthers don’t face a single team that was in the postseason last year. Games against the Lions, Bears and Ravens could be tough through that stretch, but the idea of not facing any playoff teams to start the year is certainly a comforting notion for a team that will have Cam Newton recovering from injury and a lot of new offensive pieces to integrate.
However, things change pretty drastically in week six for the Panthers when they travel to Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Bengals. Obviously Cincy was a playoff team last season, but it also begins a tough five-game stretch where all five of their opponents on the docket made the postseason last year, including a matchup in Charlotte against the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.
What could really determine the Panthers’ fate, beyond the apparent factor of how they fare over that midseason stretch, but also how good the Falcons are this season and if that team can pull themselves out of the hole they dug last year. The reason for that being that the game after those tough five games is against Atlanta, as is their season-finale. Both games could be huge in the interest of how Carolina ends up.
The Panthers have a lot of questions coming into this year, namely with their offense. As they come into this season, they are going to need to get things figured out quickly. If they are still trying to hit their stride in week six, a trip back to the postseason might not happen.