The NFL released the 2017 Carolina Panthers schedule on Thursday night. While the schedule did not offer any big surprise, there are a few points of interest worth noting that may not be obvious at first glance.
For the second year in a row, the Carolina Panthers face a brutal road schedule for an entire month. However, instead of December like last season, this year it takes place in October. Hopefully, this will translate into a healthier team to travel and a more favorable result for Carolina.
It seems the Panthers are no longer the darlings of the NFL. Out of 14 games on Sundays, 13 are played at 1:00. In other words, they will not get many nationally televised games this season. However, I am eyeballing the December matchups with the Packers, Buccaneers, and Falcons. All three have the potential to be important games as the playoffs take shape. Any one of them could be flexed to prime time.
On October 22nd, the Panthers once again heads to Chicago to face the Bears. Ron Rivera is 0-2 in Chicago as a head coach.
The October 1 game against the New England Patriots is going to be a barn burner. These two teams do not like each other, not one bit. I still remember the preseason game in New England a few seasons ago as one of the most physical I have ever seen, and that was preseason. The Panthers should be ready for them, having just played two home games in a row.
Overall, this is one of the easier schedules over the past few seasons. As such, if the Carolina Panthers cannot make the playoffs in 2017, it may be time for a regime change. Strike that, it will definitely be time for a regime change.