Week 1 opponent for Carolina Panthers in 2024 is an easy choice

Could this be the Carolina Panthers' opponent in Week 1?
Dave Canales
Dave Canales / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Excitement is building as the Carolina Panthers and others around the league gear up for the official NFL schedule release. This is a time when fans can pinpoint contests of interest and plan road trips. Everyone knows who's on the fixture list, but the structure that also includes the bye week has yet to be revealed.

The Panthers also have the added excitement of an international game this year. Carolina will play host to a contest at the impressive Allianz Arena in Munich, which Joe Person from The Athletic speculated could be held around the time of Oktoberfest based on previous schedules.

How the Panthers begin their campaign in Week 1 is also a hot topic of discussion. If the schedule-makers consider sentiment and backstory to their decision-making process, the choice is pretty easy.

Carolina Panthers should host Buccaneers in Week 1

Some might not like it, but the Panthers welcoming the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to Bank of America Stadium in Week 1 would be a good place to start. This represents another divisional clash to open proceedings, but the added incentive to get one over on their NFC South rivals and make an immediate statement of intent is evident.

This would be an instant chance for Dave Canales to get the better of his old employers. The new head coach left the Buccaneers after one season as their offensive coordinator to take the top job in Carolina. Many wondered if the promotion came too soon, so alleviating concerns by beating a franchise he knows extremely well could be the springboard behind bigger and better things where the Panthers are concerned.

Although less appealing, there is also Baker Mayfield's presence to consider. The quarterback was cast aside without getting a genuine shot in Carolina following his trade from the Cleveland Browns. After a brief stop with the Los Angeles Rams, the former No. 1 pick thrived under Canaes' guidance, steering Tampa Bay to another division title and earning a new contract along the way.

Mayfield's improvement may have stung, but it was a strong tipping point in the Panthers choosing Canales as the man to permanently replace Frank Reich. They cannot afford Bryce Young to suffer further complications under center, so acquiring a coach with proven credentials to galvanize signal-callers could provide a sounder footing.

It would be a little underwhelming from a fan's perspective. Most probably want a non-division opponent to capture the imagination. At the same time, the Panthers aren't exactly a coveted team to watch after a two-win season, so this might be the best they can hope for all things considered.

No matter who it is, the Panthers have to get off to a good start. Building early momentum is critical - especially after so many changes to the team's infrastructure. Early signs are positive, but it won't take long for the natives to become restless if the football product remains unwatchable.

If the Panthers want an opening-day victory, this could be the ideal team. Canales knows plenty about their defensive scheme and how best to counteract it. That's always a good head start early in the season when there are many unknowns.

Time will tell, I guess.