Well, we already knew the opponents and we already knew that the Panthers had the hardest schedule in the NFL in 2011, but seeing it all laid out isn't an easy pill to swallow for Panthers fans. The Panthers' opponents had a cumulative record in 2010 of 142-114. The Panthers also find themselves in another uphill climb when it comes to their division. The Panthers play in the very tough NFC South and the Panthers are the only team in the league whose other three division foes all won at least 10 games in 2010.
One of the pluses about the schedule is that a team that finishes in last place in their division will get two games against other teams who also finished fourth in their division. This year for the Panthers that means games against the last place teams from the NFC East (Washington) and the NFC West (Arizona). That hardly feels like a break at all when compared to the rest of their schedule.
The Panthers have two scheduling anomalies as they have one stretch of three consecutive home games from Week 7 through Week 10 (their bye falls during Week 9). They also have a stretch of three consecutive road games from Week 11 to Week 13.
The schedule looks pretty vanilla with 14 Sunday games at 1pm ET, that is unless a late-season game gets flexed to a later start time. A Week 1 game at Arizona will be played at 4:15 ET. This game could be their best chance for a road win all season. Their only non-Sunday game all year will be a home game on Saturday, December 24th against division rival Tampa Bay.
Christmas Eve will play host to 13 games league wide this year.
Three Home Games To Watch
Week 2 vs. Green Bay: The Panthers drew a tough home opener as they will play their first regular season home game of the Ron Rivera era against the defending Super Bowl champs.
Week 7 vs. Washington: The Panthers have played some really close games against this NFC regional rival over the years. A lot of fans in the Carolina's were Redskins fans before Charlotte had a team, so this one always draws a very good crowd.
Week 16 vs. Tampa Bay: Let's just hope the Panthers actually have something to play for this late in the year. History shows that it will mean something. Before last season, the last time the Panthers were out of playoff contention before play began in Week 16 was 2001.