For the third time in as many seasons, the Carolina Panthers are set to begin a season with a new face under center. The young core of the 2020 Panthers showed plenty of promise and could be poised for a surprising season if a few of those young players take the next step. In this Carolina Panthers record preview, we’ll take a look at each game and see how the schedule shapes out.
Carolina Panthers Record Preview, Game Predictions For 2021
Week 1: vs Jets
Revenge game! After three years in New York, Sam Darnold kicks off his Carolina career by going up against his old team. The New York Jets improved a lot over the offseason, but this is still a bad team. Zach Wilson is making his first career start, and an offensive trio led by Corey Davis, Jamison Crowder, and Elijah Moore isn’t scaring anyone.
On the other side of the ball, the Jets have a solid defensive line and not much else. New York could force pressure throughout the afternoon, but Darnold should be able to exploit the matchups between Carolina’s receivers and New York’s defensive backs.
Prediction: Panthers win (1-0)
Week 2: vs Saints
The New Orleans Saints underwent a lot of change in the offseason, and they’ll probably need some time before they figure it all out. Yes, the offensive line is still elite, but the team will have to figure out a way to move the ball with Alvin Kamara and nobody else of note on offense. Jameis Winston might be better than the 2020 version of Drew Brees, but he’ll need some time to get used to his surroundings. Add in home-field advantage, and the Panthers are set to pull off a major upset.
Prediction: Panthers win (2-0)
Week 3: at Texans
The Houston Texans are the betting favorites to be the worst team in the NFL, and it’s easy to see why. With Deshaun Watson out, the team has no talent at any position. The offensive line is a mess, the skill position players are awful, and the defense belongs in the XFL. The Texans will accidentally stumble into a win at some point during the season, but it won’t be in Week 3.
Prediction: Panthers win (3-0)
Week 4: at Cowboys
If this matchup happened earlier in the year, the Panthers might stand a fighting chance. Quarterback Dak Prescott is coming off of two major injuries and it could take him some time to find his footing. However, after four weeks, Prescott should be back to his old self, and the defense should be notably improved from last year. The Cowboys have a good amount of talent on the roster, and all cylinders should be firing by the time they host Carolina.
Prediction: Panthers lose (3-1)
— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) August 31, 2021
Week 5: vs Eagles
If the Houston Texans are a lock for the first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, then the Philadelphia Eagles are fighting for the second spot. After the colossal trainwreck that was 2020, the Eagles have embraced the rebuild and are seeing what they have in Jalen Hurts. Even if Hurts ends up being good, this roster still leaves a lot to be desired. DeVonta Smith is the only good receiver on the team, and the core players on the roster are all on the back ends of their careers. Once again, this should be a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Panthers win (4-1)
Week 6: vs Vikings
The easy games are over, as the Panthers now face off against a pretty solid Vikings squad. Kirk Cousins, while not spectacular, is good enough to move the ball against Carolina’s defense, especially considering their fantastic wide receiver duo. Darnold is going to struggle to go blow-for-blow with this offense, and Carolina will probably find themselves taking a loss in this one.
Prediction: Panthers lose (4-2)
19/25, 162 passing yards, and two touchdowns.
— NFL (@NFL) August 30, 2021
Week 7: at Giants
The Carolina Panthers and the New York Giants have a lot in common. Both teams have solid defenses, terrible offensive lines, great running backs, and quarterbacks with major question marks. This one could easily go either way, but I think the Panthers can pull off the victory here. When all else is equal, look to the coaches, and Matt Rhule is much better than Joe Judge.
Prediction: Panthers win (5-2)
Week 8: at Falcons
Matt Ryan might not be the quarterback he once was, but he’s still an above-average passer. Julio Jones might not be in town, but Calvin Ridley is legit and Kyle Pitts is the best tight end prospect in recent memory. Atlanta’s defense is pretty suspect, but Ryan should be able to move the ball more effectively than Darnold. This one’s going to be close, so we’ll let home-field advantage be the tiebreaker.
Prediction: Panthers lose (5-3)
Week 9: vs Patriots
There will not be a Cam Newton revenge game in 2021, as rookie quarterback Mac Jones beat out the veteran for the starting job. Jones looked absolutely fantastic in the preseason, but he was going up against backups. Chances are, he’ll end up being a pretty average quarterback as a rookie, but that’s all the Patriots need. New England loaded up in free agency, creating a fantastic offense line and a ferocious front seven to complement a solid secondary. Combine that with a potentially cold climate, and it’s hard to see the Panthers winning this one.
Prediction: Panthers lose (5-4)
Week 10: at Cardinals
Kyler Murray gets better and better with every passing year, and there’s no reason that trend should stop in 2021. Armed with DeAndre Hopkins and a much-improved defense, Arizona will not be easy to beat, especially on the road. If the Panthers do pull off the upset, it will have to be because of Jaycee Horn. Shutting down Hopkins is no easy task, but if Horn can do it, the Panthers stand a chance.
Prediction: Panthers lose (5-5)
— NFL (@NFL) July 15, 2021
Week 11: vs Washington
Washington’s defense will not be as good in 2021 as it was in 2020. Defensive performance is incredibly volatile from year to year, and expecting that level of play for two straight seasons is simply unreasonable. However, Ryan Fitzpatrick represents a massive upgrade at quarterback, and old friend Curtis Samuel is a huge boost to that receiving core. The improved offense should be more than enough to offset the defensive regression, which means the Panthers are facing an uphill battle to victory.
Prediction: Panthers lose (5-6)
Week 12: at Dolphins
The Dolphins have a great defense, but the Panthers should be able to move the ball enough to make this one a contest. Ultimately, this one comes down to Tua Tagovailoa. The quarterback had a terrible year last year, but he didn’t have an offseason and was coming off of major surgery. If he can recapture his college form, then the Dolphins should win. If he can’t, then the Panthers should be the favorites here.
Prediction: Panthers lose (5-7)
Week 14: vs Falcons
Carolina’s losing streak comes to a merciful end against the Atlanta Falcons. Given two weeks to prepare for a subpar Falcons team, the Panthers should be able to get back in the win column and continue their quest for a wild card spot.
Prediction: Panthers win (6-7)
Week 15: at Bills
Oh boy. Once viewed as Carolina North, the Buffalo Bills have turned into one of the best teams in football. Josh Allen is a legitimate star, and the trio of Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley, and Emmanuel Sanders is one of the best in the league. The Panthers are going to have a tough time keeping up with this offense and will probably fall back into the loss column.
Prediction: Panthers lose (6-8)
Week 16: vs Buccaneers
The reigning Super Bowl champions brought back everyone from their 2020 squad and should only be better with a full season under their belt. What more needs to be said here?
Prediction: Panthers lose (6-9)
Week 17: at Saints
The Panthers won the first matchup in this record preview, but the Saints get their revenge in Week 17. Jameis Winston should be very comfortable with the offense by this point, and Michael Thomas should be back on the field. Having these two at full strength combined with home-field advantage makes this a hard win for the Panthers.
Prediction: Panthers lose (6-10)
Week 18: at Buccaneers
Maybe the Buccaneers will have already locked up their playoff seeding by this point. If this happens, then the Panthers can probably beat Tampa’s backups.
Prediction: Panthers lose (6-11)
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