Carolina Panthers strength of schedule can spark NFC South title bid in 2023

Football isn't played on paper, but the Carolina Panthers have a decent-looking schedule in 2023.
Frank Reich
Frank Reich / Jacob Kupferman/GettyImages

Could the Carolina Panthers' schedule provide the opportunity needed for an NFC South championship during Frank Reich's first season in 2023?

It's not hard to see why there is so much optimism surrounding the Carolina Panthers these days. The incompetent previous regime has gone, replaced by professional figures and a sense of purpose that had been sorely lacking over the last three years.

Strong recruitment to the coaching and playing rosters, finding a franchise quarterback, and filling key holes were all objectives successfully ticked off by the Panthers this offseason. If everything goes well at training camp, there's a good chance Frank Reich can hit the ground running during his first season as head coach.

Football isn't played on paper. Statistics and other analytical data are useful, but there's no substitute for executing effectively on the field and coming through in clutch situations.

Carolina Panthers schedule can bring success in 2023

The Panthers were often criticized for poor situational football throughout the Matt Rhule era. Any improvements from Reich and his all-staff staff in this regard will be a tremendous help considering how fine the margins are more often than not.

Carolina also has the benefit of one of the easiest strengths of schedule based on stats. Something that Habib Timileyin from Sportskeeda believes can work to their advantage in pursuit of an unlikely NFC South title challenge.

"In 2023, the Carolina Panthers' schedule is the fourth-easiest of any NFL team. Last season, their opposition had a combined record of 108-128-2. The Panthers' calendar appears to be positioned to help them succeed. The squad has a chance to qualify for the postseason as a wild card outlet at least, due to the NFC South's completely wide-open makeup. With matchups against the Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions and Miami Dolphins, the Panthers' early schedule is difficult to navigate. On paper, things appear to be quite straightforward after the bye week. The only playoff teams the Panthers will face after their Week 7 bye are the Dallas Cowboys, Jacksonville Jaguars and a Tom Brady-less Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

Habib Timileyin, Sportskeeda

Getting off to a good start is crucial. It won't be perfect and there might be some growing pains with rookie signal-caller Bryce Young during his early transition, but accumulating some early wins will be a tremendous stepping stone for when things begin coming together as the campaign progresses.

Nobody is getting ahead of themselves, least of all Reich. The experienced figurehead has been around long enough to know how things could go wrong if complacency sets in, so keeping an even keel and the common goal in mind is of critical importance.

This is a relatively young group of players that could believe their own hype before a competitive down has been played in 2023. They'll also know this is a division flux and seemingly there for the taking - although the other three teams will be thinking the exact same thing.

Even if the Panthers cannot make the strides needed to take a divisional crown in Year 1 under Reich, fans shouldn't panic. After all, there is a long-term strategy in place at last to get Carolina back to the NFL's top table and more importantly, stay there.

Basing schedule strength on past records can sometimes be detrimental. Everything happens so quickly and so many changes take place every offseason, it's hard to gauge one way or another how any team will fare compared to years past.

Opportunity definitely knocks for the Panthers. Whether that comes with an NFC South championship is another matter.