2021 Carolina Panthers Schedule: Full Listing of Dates, Times and TV InfoMay 12, 2021
With a new quarterback in tow, Matt Rhule heads into his second season in charge of the Carolina Panthers looking to continue laying the groundwork for the future.
The Panthers are coming off a 5-11 season, matching their record from 2019.
Christian McCaffrey was limited to just three games, which effectively doomed Carolina because of his importance to the offense. In his first full season as a starter since 2015, Teddy Bridgewater was solid (3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions) but didn't prove himself to be the long-term solution at quarterback.
As a result, general manager Scott Fitterer acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets and sent Teddy Bridgewater to the Denver Broncos.
Despite the quarterback change, Carolina is likely looking at a fourth straight year outside of the playoffs. Here's a look at the team's road ahead.
The Panthers play the Texans in the new 17th game the NFL added for the 2021 season. The teams got matched up after finishing third in their respective divisions.
Also outside of its conference, Carolina crosses paths with the four AFC East squads, which could pose some difficult challenges.
The Buffalo Bills won 13 games in 2020 and figure to contend for a conference title once again. The Miami Dolphins exceeded expectations and don't look like they'll be going backward in 2021. The New England Patriots handed out nearly $160 million in guaranteed money to atone for their first losing record since 2000.
The Panthers also drew the NFC East and intra-conference clashes with the Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals. They'll almost certainly be underdogs on the road against the Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys.
In general, the schedule is pretty unforgiving for Carolina.
The NFC South is in a state of flux beyond the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Panthers are still a year or two away, the Atlanta Falcons are starting their rebuild, and the New Orleans Saints will have a new starting quarterback in Week 1 for the first time since 2005.
As long as the Bucs stay healthy, the Panthers are unlikely to have any path to a division title, leaving the wild card as their most likely route to the postseason.
That adds some stakes to the aforementioned encounters with the Vikings, Cardinals and Cowboys, as well as a Week 5 date with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In all likelihood, Carolina won't be in the NFC playoff race once it gets to the business end of the season. If the team is to overachieve, then it will need to spring some upsets of conference foes outside of the NFC South.