Carolina Panthers have tough opener, little prime-time exposure

Cam Newton and the Panthers could have a challenging December, as their last three opponents made the playoffs last season. Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL has released its 2019 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Carolina Panthers:

Game-by-game prediction

Panthers reporter David Newton is predicting a 9-7 finish:

Sept. 8: vs. L.A. Rams, Loss

Sept. 12: vs. Tampa Bay (TNF), Win

Sept. 22: at Arizona, Win

Sept. 29: at Houston, Loss

Oct. 6: vs. Jacksonville, Win

Oct. 13: vs. Tampa Bay in London, Win

Oct. 27: at San Francisco, Win

Nov. 3: vs. Tennessee, Win

Nov. 10: at Green Bay, Loss

Nov. 17: vs. Atlanta, Win

Nov. 24: at New Orleans, Loss

Dec. 1: vs. Washington, Win

Dec. 8: at Atlanta, Loss

Dec. 15: vs. Seattle, Loss

Dec. 22: at Indianapolis, Loss

Dec. 29: vs. New Orleans, Win

Strength of schedule: .502, 16th


Coach Ron Rivera often talks about measuring-stick games and respect. That makes this his ideal schedule. The measuring stick on how good the Panthers can be comes in the opener against the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams. How the Panthers handle this game and a quick turnaround against Tampa Bay will go a long way toward setting the tone for the season. The respect comes from the league not scheduling Carolina with a Monday or Sunday night prime-time game. You can bet Rivera will use that for motivation.

Who Dat

The schedule-makers liked the drama of Carolina facing New Orleans twice in the final three weeks last season so much that they almost pulled a repeat. The NFC South rivals play each other twice in the final five weeks, including the finale in Charlotte, so if the division comes down to these two, as some predict, there will be plenty of intrigue. Maybe even big enough to get flipped to prime time. Winning two of the three games before that against Atlanta, Seattle and Indianapolis in what is Carolina’s toughest stretch might be more important to making the finale significant.

London homecoming

For the first time in team history, the Panthers will travel abroad for a game. The 9:30 a.m. Oct. 13 NFC South game against Tampa Bay at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London will be a homecoming for defensive end Efe Obada, a Nigerian-born player who grew up in foster homes around the city after being left homeless there at the age of 8. The game will come during a four-game stretch that also includes Jacksonville, San Francisco and Tennessee, a stretch the Panthers may need to sweep to make the playoffs.