Week 1 vs Browns: Win; Baker Mayfield revenge game. Feels like a must win game. Panthers defense needs to be ready to stop the Browns run game, and not allow let Brissett beat them through the air.
Week 2 @ Giants: Win; I think Baker is better than Jones. The Giants embarrased the Panthers last season, Carolina is going to be looking for revenge this season. Carolina is the better team.
Week 3 vs Saints: Win; Panthers split with the Saints. Win at home, loss in New Orleans.
Week 4 vs Cardinals: Win; Panthers have had the Cardinals and Murray's number the last few years. Feels like every time they have played in recent years the Cardinals have been without Hopkins, he will be out once again this year. It's in Carolina. Feels like a game the Panthers have a good shot of winning.
Week 5 vs 49ers: Loss; This is a 50/50 game to go along with the Broncos and Steelers games at home later in the season. I feel like the Panthers will win/ need to win 1 or 2 of these games. The 49ers and Steelers have questions at QB. Can Lance be consistent. Can Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers rushing attack get Lance through his rough outings. If Lance has a bad day, this is a game the Panthers could win with the defense they have.
Week 6 @ Rams: Loss
Week 7 vs Buccaneers: Win; Panthers prove they are truly a better team than they have been the last few seasons with a big win at home over the Bucs to end a stretch of 5 of their first 7 games at Home. Panthers split with Bucs.
Week 8 @ Falcons: Win; Panthers need to sweep the Falcons. If the Panthers want to make the playoffs and if Rhule is going to keep his job, they have to beat the teams they should/ are supposed to beat.
Week 9 @ Bengals: Loss
Week 10 vs Falcons: Win
Week 11 @ Ravens: Loss
Week 12 vs Broncos: Loss
Week 13 Bye
Week 14 @ Seahawks: Win
Week 15 vs Steelers: Win; Who will the Steelers starting QB be at this point in the season. Kenny Pickett looked good in the preseason, but if he becomes the starter will he be able to continue that success over a full game, behind a Steelers OL in the same tier as the Panthers OL was last season. Steelers might be smart to protect Pickett from himself and their OL by letting Trubisky take the hits this season.
Week 16 vs Lions: Win: A likely need to win for the Panthers to ensure they can at least be a wildcard team in the playoffs.
Week 17 @ Buccaneers: Loss
Week 18 @ Saints: Loss
Record Prediction: 10-7
Season Outlook: The Panthers were 2-6 last season in one score games. That is something the Panthers will have to change this season if they want to be a playoff team and if Matt Rhule is to keep his job at the end of this season. The roster is built to be a much better team than they have been the last couple seasons. Fitterer and Rhule went out and improved their two worst position groups from last season in OL and QB. Fitterer and Rhule also improved the coaching staff. I think McAdoo will benefit Mayfield and this offense. He may have been a bad HC but he was a solid OC in New York. I like the addition of Wilkes to the defensive coaching staff. Overall I think this defense has the potential to be better than last seasons, which was a top 10 unit in total yards allowed, yards allowed per attempt, yards allowed per pass attempt, and yards allowed per rushing attempt. And an improved offense will help the defense, and should keep the defense fresher over the course of the season. And while I understand Rhule deserves criticism, I believe he should be and will be better this season. The improved coaching staff should help him immensely. He just needs to listen to his assistant coaches and coordinators, and do his job on the field and keep his players motivated. If he doesn't, and the team misses the playoffs, he should be fired because there is enough talent on this team to be good.
The Panthers start out with a favorable stretch with 5 of their first 7 games at BOA. They need to take advantage of this early season stretch. I have them going 5-2 overall, and 4-1 at Home. This stretch of games will likely set the tone for the season, and play a key factor in whether or not this team has a chance at the playoffs going into the 2nd half of the season.