The Carolina Panthers are going to look different in 2020.
Head coach Ron Rivera is gone. Quarterback Cam Newton is gone. Interim coach Perry Fewell is gone.
Enter Matt Rhule as head coach, former LSU assistant Joe Brady as offensive coordinator and Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback. They will look to help Carolina improve on its 5-11 effort in 2019 and return to the playoffs for the first time since the 2017 campaign.
Carolina Panthers Schedule
Week 1: vs Jacksonville Jaguars, Aug 13-17, TBD, Panthers Television Network
Week 2: vs New England Patriots, Aug 20-24, TBD, Panthers Television Network
Week 3: vs Baltimore Ravens, Aug. 30, 8 p.m., NBC
Week 4: vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 3, TBD, Panthers Television Network
Week 1: vs Las Vegas Raiders, Sept. 13, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 2: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Sept. 20, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 3: vs L.A. Chargers, Sept. 27, 4:05, p.m., CBS
Week 4: vs Arizona Cardinals, Oct. 4, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 5: vs Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 11, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 6: vs Chicago Bears, Oct. 18, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 7: vs New Orleans Saints, Oct. 25, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 8: vs Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 29, 8:20 p.m., Fox (Thursday Night Football)
Week 9: vs Kansas City Chiefs, Nov. 8, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 10: vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Nov. 15, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 11: vs Detroit Lions, Nov. 22, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 12: vs Minnesota Vikings, Nov. 29, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 13: Bye week
Week 14: vs Denver Broncos, Dec. 13, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 15: vs Green Bay Packers, Dec. 19/20, TBD
Week 16: vs Washington Redskins, Dec. 27, 1 p.m., CBS
Week 17 vs New Orleans Saints, Jan. 3, 1 p.m., Fox
Few teams in the league have a divisional slate as daunting as Carolina’s.
The New Orleans Saints are three-time reigning NFC South champions with Drew Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara leading the way. The Atlanta Falcons added three-time Pro Bowler Todd Gurley to an offense with Julio Jones. Yet nobody made as many waves as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this offseason considering they added six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady under center and five-time Pro Bowler Rob Gronkowski at tight end.
As if that weren’t enough, the Panthers have to face Patrick Mahomes and the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West.
The NFC North also represents a challenge considering the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings each made the playoffs last season. The Chicago Bears are also just one season removed from their division title and feature many of the same key pieces from a formidable defense.
Carolina’s schedule doesn’t have many holes, and Rhule will be challenged in his first season as an NFL head coach.
Every divisional game is key, but the NFC South runs through the Saints.
The Panthers’ only realistic chance at winning the division involves at least earning a split with the three-time defending champions, especially since they are an ugly 1-6 in their last seven meetings. Challenging for the division starts with finding a way to defeat Brees.
Elsewhere, games against the Vikings and Buccaneers stand out.
Minnesota made the playoffs as a wild card last season, and Tampa Bay figures to compete for one of the coveted postseason spots with Brady leading the way. If the Panthers are going to battle for a wild-card spot behind the Saints, those head-to-head showdowns figure to go a long way.