The Carolina Panthers have a tough schedule despite national perspective saying otherwise…
There is no doubt that every team wants to have a challenging schedule to heighten competition. Sure, players like easy games, but if every game is easy, where’s the fun in competing?
Earlier Tuesday, Panthers.com released a 2018 strength of schedule benchmark and it appears the Carolina Panthers schedule falls in the middle of the pack in comparison to the rest of the teams in the National Football League. The first rankings were released last week by Jon Brech of CBSSports.com.
Yes, it is noted that the combined record of all Panthers opponents is 131-125. That puts their combined winning percentage at just above .500 (.513), good enough for No. 12 in the league. However, looking at it from a local and divisional perspective, their schedule is tougher than it seems.
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A tough road looms ahead
Being in the NFC South, the Panthers have to play both the Falcons and the Saints twice (one game home, one game away) as well as away games against the defending Super Bowl-champion Philadelphia Eagles and the offensively-explosive Pittsburgh Steelers. Those are six games that could go either way on the schedule. Being on the road for four of them is not an easy thing to deal with either. Particularly in New Orleans, the noise at times can be deafening.
Also worth noting are the records of those four teams. The Falcons, although they struggled in the beginning of the season, finished at 10-6 and lost in the Divisional Playoff Game to the Eagles. The Saints finished first in the NFC South with an 11-5 record and beat the Panthers on their way to the Divisional Playoff Game. In the meantime, the Eagles ended up winning the Super Bowl, and the Steelers went 13-3 before they were defeated by the Jaguars in an offensive shootout.
That seems like a gauntlet rather than a walk in the park.
If anything, the Carolina Panthers schedule is far from middle-of-the-pack. They have to overcome six difficult games, and in some cases, those games could make or break the team’s season. While the schedule is considered average nationally, the Panthers will not take anything for granted. It is going to be a fun, but challenging season.