Carolina will open its season with high expectations. Ryan Kalil has declared his team will reach and win the Super Bowl this year, but others feel the Panthers will, at best, make a playoff appearance before being unceremoniously dispatched and ending their season.
According to ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, the Panthers have the toughest schedule in their division and the 10th hardest in their league (.508).
The key to Carolina's success will not only be the health and performance of their key players, but defying history and defeating exceptional opponents that could be vying for a playoff spot. Five non-division games have been selected as the proverbial stepping stones the Panthers must overcome if they are to make good on Kalil's declaration and make it to the Super Bowl.
It should be noted that Carolina has a losing record against four of these five teams all time and a mediocre 3-3 record against the fifth one.