4 critical games the Carolina Panthers cannot afford to lose in 2022

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

What are some games that the Carolina Panthers must win during what promises to be a critical 2022 season for the organization?

Matt Rhule will be looking ahead to the 2022 season with nervous excitement. The Carolina Panthers have done a good job this offseason bringing the right sort of players on board, but it’s hard to look at the head coach with anything other than ‘hot seat’ status heading into Year 3 of his tenure.

The Panthers are not expected to make any significant waves according to most in the media. But fans will want to see the team fight for everything and show some sort of progress to finally get things going on the right path.

Anything like the complete capitulation we witnessed in 2021 will likely spell the end for Rhule. Although that might not be an opinion shared by team owner David Tepper, who remains loyal to the former Baylor man when all around him seemingly crumbled last time around.

If Rhule and the Panthers want to accomplish anything next season, here are four games they simply cannot afford to lose.

Game No. 1

Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Sunday, Sept 11. 87. 1 PM ET. Panthers +4.5. 0. 53. CBS. 0

Carolina Panthers vs. Cleveland Browns – Week 1

Getting off to a hot start is going to be crucial. The Carolina Panthers have five of their first seven games on home soil and kick things off with an intriguing contest against the Cleveland Browns at Bank of America Stadium.

This will obviously depend on whether Deshaun Watson is on the field following his high-profile trade from the Houston Texans. If the former Clemson star is suspended by the league amid civil cases relating to sexual misconduct, this would improve the Panthers’ hopes of attaining a Week 1 triumph significantly.

It won’t take long for natives to get restless if Carolina starts poorly. Winning against a team with deep postseason aspirations would be a solid foundation from which to build.