5 pivotal games that will define Carolina Panthers 2024 season

These games will be season-defining for the Carolina Panthers.
Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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With yet another regime change under the ownership of David Tepper, there is more pressure than ever for the Carolina Panthers to produce results. Especially considering how patience is wearing thin across the fanbase.

Tepper went out and found a rising offensive star to try and fix Bryce Young in Dave Canales. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator comes with high recommendations and a solid track record of getting the most out of his quarterbacks. That's all well and good, but up-and-comer has to prove capable of making hard decisions in the heat of the moment.

One can only hope that the Panthers have finally found their guy after the highly questionable decisions of the last few years. This cannot become another scenario that looks good on paper but falls to pieces in practice. There is no space for any more disappointment.

This season will be a true test. The Panthers could be picking near the top of the 2025 draft, but that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing at this point.

Which games will define whether the team comes out near the top or in the cellar?

Carolina Panthers at Patriots - Preseason Week 1

While most might look at a preseason game and rightfully think that they are largely uneventful and mostly useless in today's NFL, there is a lot that will be gleaned from this contest.

Bill Belichick is no longer with the New England Patriots. The former boogeyman of the AFC has plenty of challenges when it comes to figuring out how to go forward, but this will be the first true test of Dave Canales' coaching ability.

Everything will be fairly muted when it comes to play-calling and design, but that isn't the point. The point is to see how Canales handles game pressure and even more importantly, how Bryce Young handles this new offense.

Young will not play for long in this game. However, Canales will be coaching the entire time. That will give fans a prolonged look at just how he wants this team to play going forward.

An undisciplined and sloppy team will never win in the NFL. It remains to be seen if Canales will have good enough control over the Carolina Panthers' locker room to command the respect that is necessary to make the strides required.

Having a plan is great, but it never survives the heat of battle. That is what this game will show.