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2023 Panthers schedule preview: Weeks 10-13

Forecasting the third quarter(ish) of the Panthers 2023 schedule

NFL: JAN 01 Panthers at Buccaneers Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With the regular season schedule now released for the 2023 NFL season and Week 1 odds already out, we can now take a look ahead at just what these new Carolina Panthers will be facing. We’re going to break the schedule down into bite size chunks and talk about everything from strength of opponents to the distance the Panthers are going to have to travel. What we aren’t doing just yet—but we’ll never stop y’all from doing in the comments—is making specific win-loss predictions in for each game. Today we’re focusing on the third chunk of the Panthers schedule.

This stretch of games, eight games in, will see the Panthers well over the half way mark on the season. By this point, we should have a solid idea of what Frank Reich’s Panthers are trying to look like, how far Bryce Young has to go or has already come, and whether or not Ejiro Evero really has the personnel to run the defense he wants to. I said should. Since we’ve all been watching the Panthers over several regimes we know that some things remain constant across administrations, teams, and seasons. By this point, we will have seen dozens of promising moments balanced by dozens of equally baffling moments. There will be enough confirmation bias flying around that the team will be doomed or Super Bowl bound depending on who you ask. Ask five different fans and you’ll get five different answers, with the exception that they will all start with a half shrug.

Plus or minus a win or three, the Panthers will be a solid 4-4 right now and alive somewhere in the middle of the NFC South. The talent level of teams they have beaten or lost to get to the 4-4 mark will be more confusing than clarifying. And regardless of how far to the plus or minus that error margin ultimately swings, playoff and top draft pick considerations should be weighed equally. That’s OK, though. That’s Panthers football.

I’m going to be optimistic heading into Week 1 because that is just so much more fun. But after that? I’ll believe this team will be different when I see it being different.


Week 10: at Chicago Bears (Thursday Night Football)
Week 11: vs Dallas Cowboys
Week 12: at Tennessee Titans
Week 13: at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

at Bears

The Panthers second primetime and only (thankfully) dreaded Thursday Night game. These crimes against quality and player health are a yearly mandated presence for each team that are always, uniquely awful. Limited time to prepare and limited time to rest between games certainly sounds like a winning formula, huh?

This year, unfortunately, the TNF experience is eating one of the Panthers more interesting games. We have the D.J. Moore playing against us for the first time, we have Panthers fans first in-person look at Justin Fields, and, if we are injury-lucky, we have Jaycee Horn’s first match-up against the Fields, the quarterback that many fans wanted instead of him.

Still, for all that we could learn so much and spend weeks re-litigating the 2021 NFL Draft we have to remember that the first rule of Thursday Night Football is that we don’t draw any conclusions from Thursday Night Football.

vs Cowboys

The Panthers then return home to face what projects to be one of the toughest teams on their schedule. The Cowboys are an odd marriage of talent and coaching that nevertheless was one of the best teams in football last season and projects to be nothing but improved in 2023, at least in terms of talent.

Kellen Moore, their former offensive coordinator and an all-around hot name in coaching circles, left the team after not getting a head coaching gig this year and is now with the Chargers. This season will be a big test of whether Moore or head coach Mike McCarthy was the sole genius behind the team’s recent successes. By Week 11 we should have a pretty strong handle on just what degree of a juggernaut—or paper tiger—the Panthers will be facing here.

at Titans

This is the game I have the absolute least to say about. Mike Vrabel is a good coach and Derrick Henry is a force to be reckoned with. Past that, it is hard to say what their plans are at quarterback. They aren’t a bad team, but we can’t know how good they’ll be without knowing who is playing between Ryan Tannehill, Malik Willis, and Will Levis.

at Buccaneers

It takes until Week 13 to get to the Panthers next divisional game after starting out with two straight. The Bucs are the last NFC South team to appear on the schedule and that’s honestly great news for the Panthers. The Baker Mayfield Reunion Game* (*title pending) has the chance to be anything from a true challenge, at which point the Panthers will deeply appreciate twelve games worth of film on this new-look team, to a peaceful respite.

By Week 13, the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints will have had three of their six NFC South games. This game will be the third for both the Panthers and the Bucs, leaving three divisional games in the last five weeks of the season for each team in the NFC South. That means this could be a huge positioning game for both teams as they eye the home stretch of their schedules.