A look at Panthers’ 2024 schedule

Bryce Young (9) throws an off-balanced pass against the Giants in a preseason game last August. Young and the Panthers will meet the Giants again this season, in a regular season tilt in Germany. (Bryan Woolston/AP Photo)

CHARLOTTE — With last week’s release of the 2024 NFL schedule, the Carolina Panthers got a glimpse of the competition they’ll be up against in their inaugural season under new coach Dave Canales.

Beginning with the season opener on Sept. 8, the team will aim to improve from last season’s 2-15 record, reinvigorate 2023 No. 1 draft pick and second-year quarterback Bryce Young, and inject some hope into a franchise ailed by six consecutive losing seasons.

Considering that Carolina is the current betting underdog in all 17 of its games, the NFL league office seemingly took note of the team’s lowly state in terms of watchability — the Panthers are the only squad in the league without a primetime game, not counting a Week 10 morning matchup with the N.Y. Giants in Germany.

However, the results of the Panthers’ schedule release could provide the team’s fan base a spoonful of optimism with an equal dose of measured caution. Historically, primetime games haven’t been Carolina’s forte, and the slate of opponents lined up to challenge the Panthers could be far worse.

“I do love playing on Sunday. You know what you’re doing Friday at home, and you know what you’re doing on Saturday,” Canales said in a behind-the-scenes schedule release reaction video posted by the team.

“All the games are on Sunday…normal weeks every week,” added Brandt Tillis, Carolina’s executive vice president of football operations.

Based on 2023 winning percentage, Carolina has the fourth-easiest strength of schedule — only higher than Chicago and NFC South rivals New Orleans and Atlanta. The Panthers are set to play 10 of the teams with the 14 worst records in the league last season.

As a counterpoint, however, three of the team’s weakest opponents on paper (Washington, Las Vegas and Denver) will each get to play the Panthers on their home field.

Carolina’s 2024 preseason consists of a road trip to New England, followed by a home game with the N.Y. Jets and a return back to the Northeast to face Buffalo.

The regular season kicks off in New Orleans with a road game against a familiar divisional opponent in the Saints, before returning back to Bank of America Stadium for a home-opener against new head coach Jim Harbaugh and his San Diego Chargers.

The Panthers will then head to Las Vegas to face the Raiders in Week 3 and round out the month of September with a home matchup versus Cincinnati.

Five of Carolina’s first eight games of the season take place on the road, coming to a head in October where it will be the visiting team in Chicago (Oct. 6), Washington (Oct. 20) and Denver (Oct. 27). Only a Week 6 home contest with NFC South favorite Atlanta provides the Panthers a chance to play in front of their home crowd that month.

Reacting to the real-time announcement of Carolina’s matchup against the Bears, Panthers defensive end Derrick Brown looked over at Young next to him and remarked: “Chicago on Week 5. That’s the No. 1 pick versus the No. 1 pick; that’s primetime.”

It is a game that will likely attract the eyes of neutral observers hoping to appraise the back-to-back top draft picks, as Young will face off in that game against rookie quarterback Caleb Williams.

After another meeting with the Saints — this time in Charlotte — on Nov. 3, Carolina is faced with a pair of special contests separated by a Week 11 bye: a 9:30 a.m. kickoff in Munich against the Giants on Nov. 10 and a home meeting with defending NFL champion Kansas City on Nov. 24.

That Week 12 game with the Chiefs is the first in a four-game series of consecutive matchups against 2023 playoff teams, starting with KC and leading into Tampa Bay at home (Dec. 1), Philadelphia on the road (Dec. 8), and Dallas at home (Dec. 15).

This increase in difficulty provides a contrast to the first two months of the schedule where the Panthers won’t see a team that made the playoffs in 2023 until after the bye.

Moving ahead, Weeks 16-18 will give Carolina opportunities at home versus Arizona (Dec. 22) before finishing the regular season with divisional road trips to Tampa Bay (Dec. 29) and Atlanta (TBD).

Coming off a two-win season as the worst team in the NFL, the Panthers now have an opportunity to regroup under the leadership of a new coach and attempt at making some strides in overall team development.