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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Carolina Panthers at Saints - Week 1

The first game will always go a long way toward showing just what a team is going to be made of. What better test than the New Orleans Saints, a franchise looking to make up for the incredible disappointment of last season?

The Saints were supposed to be the new leaders of the NFC South after bringing in superstar quarterback Derek Carr to be their new leader on offense, but it was less than advertised last season. Much like the Carolina Panthers bringing in Bryce Young and their big-name coaching staff.

Two teams who fell way below expectations looking for redemption. How much better could an opening-day game get?

Not since 2021 has the Panthers won their opening game - before then it was 2018. While winning the first contest of the year doesn't entirely relate to a solid season, starting on the right foot goes a long way to building the confidence necessary. This bears more significance for a team that has not seen much good in recent years and even less positive publicity.

The Panthers desperately need a boost. Something to get them going in 2024. Something for the coaching staff to point to and say that the team did a good job. Something for this squad to build upon.

Coming out of the gate with a loss - especially one to a long-time division rival - would demoralize the organization and fanbase alike. We all know just how loud that particular rivalry tends to get. With how defeated this team looked for most of the season last year, it might just end the campaign before it begins.

An opening-day victory, even if it doesn't turn into an extended win streak, would be just the kind of medicine that the Panthers need to make something out of this season. To give the fanbase a little bit of hope, and to put the NFL on notice for the first time in a while.

Contrary to popular belief, the NFC South is wide open this season. Coming out of Week 1 on top would taste so sweet after the bitter pill of defeat that was the last several years.