It's a new era in Carolina as the Panthers usher in head coach Matt Rhule to bring a new voice to the franchise. The Panthers decided what better way to usher in a new era of football than to replace former MVP and NFC-champion quarterback Cam Newton with former first-round pick Teddy Bridgewater. That's not the only change they made. It will be a truly new-look Panthers squad across the board as the franchise parted ways with head coach Ron Rivera, quarterback Cam Newton, linebacker Luke Kuechly (who retired), tight end Greg Olsen and cornerback James Bradberry

Still, with a new coach comes the new hope -- and the Panthers are hoping their star running back in Christian McCaffrey can overachieve in 2020. It may be tough, however, with a new coaching staff and with so many on-field leaders now gone. At the very least, the Panthers want to improve on their 5-11 season in 2019, but how much will the schedule help them out this year?

Below, we'll break down Carolina's 2020 schedule by week and pinpoint all of the prime-time games to keep an eye on. We'll also dive into the Panthers' strength of schedule, what we project as their toughest stretch of games and more. Without further ado, let's dive right into it.

2020 schedule (All times Eastern)

  • Week 1: Sept. 13 vs. Raiders, 1 p.m., CBS
  • Week 2: Sept. 20a at Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 3: Sept. 27 at Chargers, 4:05 p.m., CBS
  • Week 4: Oct. 4 vs. Cardinals, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 5: Oct. 11 at Falcons, 1 p.m., Fox 
  • Week 6: Oct. 18 vs. Bears, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 7: Oct. 25 at Saints, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 8: Oct. 29 vs. Falcons (Thursday Night Football), 8:20 p.m., Fox, NFL Network and Amazon 
  • Week 9: Nov. 8 at Chiefs, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 10: Nov. 15 vs. Buccaneers, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 11: Nov. 22 vs. Lions, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 12: Nov. 29 at Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
  • Week 13: BYE WEEK
  • Week 14: Dec. 13 vs. Broncos, 1 p.m., CBS
  • Week 15: Dec. 19 OR Dec. 20 at Packers, TBD
  • Week 16: Dec. 27 at Redskins, 1 p.m., CBS
  • Week 17: Jan. 3 vs. Saints, 1 p.m., Fox

Home opener

The Panthers' first game played at home in 2020 will come against the Raiders in the season opener. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Sept. 13. 

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Prime-time games

As noted above in the schedule breakdown, the Panthers will be playing in just one prime-time game in 2020 -- a Thursday night matchup with the Falcons in Charlotte. In 2019, the Panthers also played in just one prime-time game -- a Week 2 "Thursday Night Football" matchup with the Buccaneers at home. They also played an early-morning game against the Buccaneers in London four weeks later.  

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Toughest stretch

The Panthers have a tough stretch right in the middle of the 2020 season. In Week 7, they travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints, they then have a short week and host the Falcons on "Thursday Night Football" and then travel to Kansas City to take on the reigning Super Bowl champions in Week 9. After all of that, they host Tom Brady and the Buccaneers in Week 10. Going 2-2 during that stretch would be considered a win. 

Strength of schedule

Earlier this offseason, John Breech broke down the 2020 strength of schedule for all 32 NFL teams based on combined opponent winning percentage in 2019. The Panthers will face the No. 18 toughest strength of schedule in 2020. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule, check out Breech's breakdown here.

However, when basing strength of schedule on the over/under win totals for each team's opponents during the 2020 season at William Hill, the Panthers go from facing the No. 18 toughest schedule in the league to facing the fifth-toughest schedule. For a complete look at every team's strength of schedule using this methodology, check out Jared Dubin's full breakdown here.