I don’t see any reason to believe that the Panthers can’t secure a win against all of our remaining opponents, though surely they will lose a few. When thinking about which game I fear the most, like last year, I think about the Philadelphia Eagles.
The main concern by then will be a healthy Carson Wentz. Assuming he continues to play without setbacks, he’ll be in a groove by week seven and the fact he missed all that preseason time will no longer be relevant. Any rust to shake off will have been shook. Wentz was amazing in 2017 and there is no reason to think he won’t duplicate that success this year. The Panthers’ corners will have to continue their current level of good play, and the pass rush will have to hold up its end of the bargain to get Wentz off his spot.
The second reason I’m worried is the Fletcher Cox effect. Even with the offensive line playing well right now —having successfully neutralized Geno Atkins in Week 3— the Panthers will be in trouble. A better interior line than this one (that featured Andrew Norwell last year) could not stop Cox. Pressure in Cam Newton’s face has proven to be far more detrimental in the past than edge pressure. That isn’t even accounting for all of the Eagles’ talent on the edge of their defensive line.
The final reason I don’t like this matchup is the presence of a talented and involved tight end. Zach Ertz is a big part of the Eagles’ offense, and so far this year the Panthers have struggled to defend other tight ends like Austin Hooper in Atlanta and Tyler Eifert in Cincinnati. Ertz is a step above those two. The Panthers will need to focus a lot of attention on him to neutralize that threat.
However, despite the reasons above I fully believe this Carolina Panthers team is capable of winning against anyone. If both sides of the ball play up to standard, they can win, but it will definitely be a tight contest to the end.