4 key takeaways from the Panthers 2021 schedule release

Dean Jones
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson and D.J. Moore /

What were the key takeaways from the official schedule release for the Carolina Panthers as they look to make a bigger impact in 2021?

The Carolina Panthers now have their fixture dates for the 2021 season after the NFL formally published their schedule on Wednesday evening. Fans are now busy planning which games they’ll attend and potential road trips of interest, with the prospect of full stadiums returning across the country looking more likely with every passing day.

This is certainly a big season for the Panthers, who were highly competitive against some top opposition in 2020 before eventually having to settle for a 5-11 record for the second straight year. There’s been plenty of activity to improve the roster further this offseason in free agency, the 2021 NFL Draft, and the trade market, where Carolina rescued Sam Darnold from his three-year nightmare with the New York Jets.

What comes next for Darnold is unclear. But he couldn’t be in a better position to make a better go of things considering the wealth of talent around the former USC star.

There are some tough teams on the schedule next season, of that there is little doubt. But what were some of the big factors we can take from the outside looking in?

Takeaway No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Cam Newton /

Cam Newton revenge game comes at a critical time

This was arguably the first game that fans looked for when the schedule was revealed. Cam Newton makes his return to Bank of America Stadium for the first time since his messy release from the Panthers in Week 9, which is sure to be an emotional occasion considering everything he brought to the franchise.

A fortune would have it, this contest also comes at a critical point in the season. Both the New England Patriots and Panthers are hoping to put the right sort of form together to make a postseason return after the two teams missed out last year and the added spice of Newton’s return means the stakes will be incredibly high for all parties involved.

Newton should be the starter despite New England drafting Mac Jones at No. 15 overall. Bill Belichick has put some nice weapons around the 2015 NFL MVP, so there will be no more excuses this time around and he is sure to get a hero’s welcome from supporters who idolized him in Carolina.