Key Additions: Chris Hogan, Bruce Irvin, Matt Paradis, Brian Burns, Greg Little, Will Grier, Christian Miller, Jordan Scarlett, Dennis Daley, Terry Godwin, Gerald McCoy, Tre Boston
Key Return: Daryl Williams, Kyle Love, Cameron Artis-Payne
Key Departures: Thomas Davis, Devin Funchess, Matt Kalil, Ryan Kalil, Julius Peppers
|Week 1||Sept. 8th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Los Angeles Rams (FOX)|
|Week 2||Sept. 12th 8:20 PM ET||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL)|
|Week 3||Sept. 22nd 4:05 PM ET||@ Arizona Cardinals (FOX)|
|Week 4||Sept. 29th 1:00 PM ET||@ Houston Texans (FOX)|
|Week 5||Oct. 6th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (CBS)|
|Week 6||Oct. 13th 9:30 AM ET||@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL)*|
|Week 7||Bye Week|
|Week 8||Oct. 27th 4:05 PM ET||@ San Francisco 49ers (FOX)|
|Week 9||Nov. 3rd 1:00 PM ET||vs. Tennessee Titans (CBS)|
|Week 10||Nov. 10th 1:00 PM ET||@ Green Bay Packers (FOX)|
|Week 11||Nov. 17th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Atlanta Falcons (FOX)|
|Week 12||Nov. 24th 1:00 PM ET||@ New Orleans Saints (FOX)|
|Week 13||Dec. 1st 1:00 PM ET||vs. Washington Redskins (CBS)|
|Week 14||Dec. 8th 1:00 PM ET||@ Atlanta Falcons (FOX)|
|Week 15||Dec. 15th 1:00 PM ET||vs. Seattle Seahawks (FOX)|
|Week 16||Dec. 22nd 1:00 PM ET||@ Indianapolis Colts (FOX)|
|Week 17||Dec. 29th 1:00 PM ET||vs. New Orleans Saints|
*Game in London
Finishing 7-9 in 2018 was not where the Panthers wanted to see themselves finish at. Injuries did play a role in the finish however after starting 6-2 and then limped to a 1-7 finish after Cam Newton injured his shoulder. The defense also struggled and showed their age. After the season, the turnover that followed was understandable as Ryan Kalil, Julius Peppers, and Thomas Davis are gone. The Panthers will look to rebound in 2019 with a playoff spot after a disappointing season.
For the 2019 campaign, Newton will look to continue what he started with Offensive Coordinator Norv Turner in 2018 and build on his career-high 68% completion percentage. The addition of Matt Paradis will look to stabilize the offensive line after the departure of Ryan Kalil. Also, a new left tackle in rookie Greg Little will look to establish himself as a foundational piece for the line. Christian McCaffrey will look to continue his dominance, DJ Moore will also look to be more of a contributing force after finishing with 55 catches and 788 yards last season.
One task the Panthers will be faced with is the creation of a number one wide receiver. Devin Funchess had a tenure in Carolina that did not really live up to his draft billing. An interesting competition in camp will be to see who emerges as Newtons WR1. Early favorite will be DJ Moore, however Curtis Samuel and Chris Hogan should also see their fair share of targets and receptions. Also, tight end Greg Olsen can hopefully stay healthy and contribute to improve the offense and third down percentage for Newton and company.
Free agency saw a minimal amount of additions compared to departures, but the additions helped address needs. Hogan will provide veteran leadership as well as give Newton an additional target, Matt Paradis will look to help anchor and lead the offensive line and guide rookie Greg Little and Dennis Daley. Little and Daley will look to compete for a starting spot at tackle in camp where Little is the favorite. On the defensive side of the ball, first-round pick Brian Burns will look to establish himself as a force off the edge. Free-agent addition Bruce Irvin will help on the line and should get challenged in camp by Burns for reps and a starting role. In the third round of the draft, the Panthers chose to upgrade their backup quarterback as they chose Will Grier out of West Virginia.
The schedule will have its share of challenges as the team opens with home games against the Rams and a Thursday night contest against the Buccaneers. Then early road games against the Texans and a trip to London to play the Buccaneers highlight the first six weeks of the season. The schedule also has formidable challenges after the bye week with road games against the 49ers and Colts and both games against divisional foes Falcons and Saints.
This 25th season of the Panthers will be challenging for them and head coach Ron Rivera. With an incredibly strong division, the likelihood of the Panthers returning to the postseason will be difficult. I don’t see them finishing higher than third in the division although their contests against the Texans, 49ers, and at the Packers in October and November will certainly go a long way to showing what the Panthers can do. The 2019 campaign will be difficult for the Carolina faithful, but they should “Keep Pounding” as there will be a celebration as the team plays its 25th anniversary season for what has been and will continue to be a great fan base.