Panthers schedule: Top 5 all-time toughest Carolina fixture lists

Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Julius Peppers
Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Julius Peppers /
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Luke Kuechly and Julius Peppers, Panthers schedule
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Luke Kuechly and Julius Peppers /

2. 2017 (Tied 2nd toughest in NFL)

The Panthers schedule was ranked second hardest in 2019, tied with the Green Bay Packers. This season saw the return of veterans Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn as well as general manager Marty Hurney. After the disappointing 2016 season, the team looked to rebound and find the playoffs again.

In their first return to Levi Stadium in Santa Clara since Super Bowl 50, the Panthers trounced the 49ers by a 23-3 margin to begin the season on a positive note. The following week Carolina’s defense held their second straight opponent to just three points, defeating the Bills 9-3 at home.

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The team struggled the next week to slow down the Saints but bounced back in Week 4 against the New England Patriots thanks to a late Graham Gano field goal. It was their first win in Foxborough since their inaugural season. Another win in their next outing against the Detroit Lions saw the Panthers improve to 4-1.

That streak ended with a close primetime loss to the Eagles a few days later and another defeat in a low-scoring affair against the Chicago Bears. Back-to-back wins over division rival Atlanta and Tampa Bay got the team going again, beginning a four-game win streak.

After breezing by the Miami Dolphins and Jets, the team fell for the second time to New Orleans in a tight battle in the Superdome. At 8-4, the Panthers were still strongly in the playoff race and bounced back with wins over the Minnesota Vikings, Packers, and Buccaneers.

In the final week, the Panthers had a shot at the division title with Tampa Bay’s defeat of New Orleans. However, the Falcons played spoiler and bumped Carolina into a Wildcard spot heading into the postseason.

That set the Panthers up for a third matchup with New Orleans and a chance to get revenge for the regular-season sweep. The defense showed well in the game, but a late-game comeback fell just short as the Saints progressed.

Although the season ended on a sour note, an 11-5 finish against the league’s second-hardest schedule was the team’s best mark against such formidable opposition.