The NFL is going to look different in a number of ways this year especially with COVID-19 consuming the world. The league has put a contingency plan in place, as first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Any game on a team’s schedule could be their first. Either way, here are the top five games on the 2020 Carolina Panthers‘ schedule.
Top Five Games on the 2020 Carolina Panthers’ Schedule
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Panthers
This should be a top game on any team’s list if they have to see the Buccaneers this season. For the Panthers, they have to see this team twice this year, and playing Tom Brady is going to be a major challenge for them. His roster is better than the one he had his last year with the New England Patriots. Mike Evans has been a consistent threat scoring eight touchdowns in the last two seasons. He’s 6 feet 5 inches and always seems to find a way to get the ball even with the double teams he often faces. Not to mention Rob Gronkowski decided to come out of retirement. He had the most receiving touchdowns in Patriots history. It’s still a new situation for Brady though so this will be a good practice matchup for both teams. Their defense stars Ndamukong Suh, a known sack monster, even with his history as a dirty player.
Carolina’s defense is way different from last year with only Donte Jackson and Corn Elder being the only two cornerbacks on the roster whose names hold any weight. They have a young team on both sides of the ball so this will be a good test for them to see how well it all gels together. Shaq Thompson, even at 25, has five years of experience which makes him a valuable leader. The offense will look different too, with a 28-year-old Teddy Bridgewater as the new quarterback for the Panthers. He has plenty of weapons to throw to and with his accuracy, their offense should look more explosive this season.
Barring there is no delay in the schedule the Bucs come to Charlotte on Nov 15. The Panthers are notorious for beating Brady. Let’s see if the change of scenery affects that outcome.
Arizona Cardinals at Panthers
The Cardinals come to town in the fourth game of the 2020 Carolina Panthers season. By this time, both teams should have had a few practices together and should have some identity. Two quarterbacks are facing off, both playing with so much to prove.
Bridgewater was made a backup of the New Orleans Saints after sustaining a season-ending knee injury in 2016. Falling short of what he thought could be greatness puts a major chip on his shoulder. He obviously has great numbers when given the opportunity–three seasons with at least 1,000 yards passing; he only started 14 games over two seasons with the Saints. Those aren’t Cam Newton-type numbers but if given an opportunity to develop, he could still be a super bowl winning quarterback.
Kyler Murray is coming into his second season with the Arizona Cardinals. He hit a few bumps last year, trying to get used to massive linemen against his short stature. Still, he threw for just over 3,700 yards, 20 passing touchdowns, 544 rushing yards along with his four rushing touchdowns. Those are pretty impressive numbers for a rookie. He’ll be coming out ready to see what he can do against the Panthers’ young defense.
This is an important game for both quarterbacks so watch to see how each is able to deal with that pressure.
Panthers at Washington Redskins
Talk about an emotional game for the Redskins new head coach, Ron Rivera. Obviously, the team is going to look a lot different than it did over his nine seasons in Carolina, but Rivera is a coach who knows all about change. Still, there are a few familiar faces that he will be eager to see before they take the field.
For the Redskins, this will be a game to prove to the Panthers that they made a huge mistake, firing Rivera. This team will be playing for their coach. Rivera needs to make a statement, as he often does, with the new team he has. By the time the Panthers and Redskins play one another, it’ll be late in the season. They’ll have plenty of time to prepare for the Panthers. They are loaded at running back–if Derrius Guice stays healthy–with Adrian Peterson and Bryce Love out of Stanford. Right now, their wide receivers leave something to be desired but that could change before the start of the season.
The Panthers are under a new rule and this matchup will be the first meeting between Matt Rhule and Rivera. They have added Robby Anderson to a solid offense. He brings four years of experience and at least two touchdowns each of the four seasons. The Panthers offense is going to give many teams fits this season and this team will be no exception.
Panthers at Minnesota Vikings
This is one of the Panthers’ top-five games of the season because this will be the first time Bridgewater visits his former team as the starting quarterback. He traveled to Minnesota in January as a backup. They lost to them on the last play of the game but going back as the Panthers’ quarterback gives him the opportunity to show them what he could have done there.
Minnesota has a tough defense so the Panthers have to make sure their offensive line is a strong one. Everson Griffen leads those guys and is tough. He had eight sacks last season and will surely save one for Bridgewater to welcome him back. They parted ways with Stefon Diggs who accounted for 4,623 reception yards over his five seasons with the Vikings. They still have a tight end, Kyle Rudolph, as a target to throw to but they may still want to find some receivers if they stand a chance of hanging with the Panthers.
Panthers at Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs won Super Bowl 54 and have shown no signs of slowing down. This game is an important one for the Panthers to gauge where they are as a team. The Chiefs had a cinderella season during what was supposed to be a bad season for Patrick Mahomes. He dislocated his knee and missed three weeks. This is going to be a difficult matchup for the Panthers on both sides of the ball.
It will be a tall task for Carolina, on defense, with so many people to cover. Travis Kelce takes a double team by himself and he usually finds a way to get the ball anyway because of his size. Tyreek Hill is the fastest target on the team. They have Sammy Watkins and Darrel Williams. The best the Panthers can hope for that week is that the offense can score as many points as the Chiefs probably will.
2020 Season At A Glance
There is so much uncertainty going into the 2020 season. No one is even sure when week one of the NFL will actually take place.
The Panthers will likely have a subpar season dealing with a brand new head coach, a new quarterback, and a new defense. 2020 will certainly be a rebuilding year for the Panthers so the expectation is fairly low, but it will be interesting to see if or how everything gels together.
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