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 Bears - Week 5

Much like last season's duel between C.J. Stroud and Bryce Young, this game will be a contest of quarterbacks forever linked by a trade that will go down in Carolina Panthers infamy. Whether that's a good or bad thing has yet to be fully determined.

Trading up for any of the quarterbacks available in the 2023 NFL Draft was risky business. One could make a strong case for the 2024 class being much more proven and a generally safer option. Unfortunately, the Panthers didn't have that luxury with pressure mounting on general manager Scott Fitterer.

In just about every metric, Caleb Williams is a better quarterback than Young - at least on paper and even on eye test alone. But that is only comparing college careers. The NFL is an entirely different beast.

All pretense aside, this first meeting will not be the true litmus test of which player will have the better career overall. However, a win here would do a lot to help prove that the Panthers made the right decision in moving up to draft Young instead of patiently waiting for this season.

Either way, this will be a great opportunity for Young to bounce back after a rough rookie season. And the Panthers have done a tremendous job of placing more stability around their signal-caller throughout the offseason. Hopefully, this coupled with Dave Canales' improved coaching can spearhead his renaissance.

The Panthers were able to pull off the unlikely and beat Stroud last year. Will they have what it takes to beat another complete team in the Chicago Bears? It remains to be seen.

If all goes according to plan, this will be the first of many classic meetings between two of the next faces of the NFL. It would be nice to start that rivalry off on the right foot by claiming bragging rights.