With only one more game left to play in 2018, the process of preparing for 2019 has begun in earnest for the Carolina Panthers. Part of that preparation, of course, is beginning to prepare for exactly which teams they will face next season.
Going into Week 17, the Panthers already know who their opponents will be in 14 of 16 regular season games: In addition to their annual NFC South games against the New Orleans Saints, Atlanta Falcons, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Panthers will also play the NFC West and AFC South in 2019 – Giving them matchups with the Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Tennessee Titans. Two more opponents, however, will be determined based on the outcome of the final game of the season.
According to Bill Voth of the Panthers, the Panthers will host the same-place finisher from the NFC East in 2019, and then travel to the same-place finisher of the NFC North. As of now, the Panthers can finish anywhere from second to fourth in the NFC South – Meaning that they will host either the Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, or New York Giants, and then have to travel to play either the Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, or Detroit Lions.
As outlined by Voth, the scenarios for the determination of the Panthers’ 2019 opponents are as follows:
– If the Panthers finish second in the NFC South by virtue of a victory over the New Orleans Saints and a Falcons loss to the Buccaneers, they will host the Philadelphia Eagles, and then travel to face the Minnesota Vikings
– If the Panthers finish third in the NFC South by virtue of either a win and a Falcons victory or a Panthers loss and a Falcons win, they will host the Washington Redskins and travel to face the Green Bay Packers.
– If the Panthers finish last in the NFC South by virtue of a loss and a Buccaneers victory over the Falcons, they will host the New York Giants and travel to face the Detroit Lions.
Should the Panthers finish second in the NFC South, it would mean that they will play the Eagles for a third-consecutive year. The Panthers had hosted the Eagles for a Thursday Night game in 2017, while traveling to Philadelphia to play the Eagles in Week Seven of this past season. The Panthers last played the Vikings in 2017, when they hosted them in December.
Should the Panthers finish third in the NFC South, it will give them a similar scenario: An opportunity to host an NFC East team that they played on the road in 2018, and the opportunity to travel to face an NFC North team that they last saw in Bank of America Stadium in 2017.
The Panthers finishing last in the NFC South would give them a schedule most-resembling their 2018 schedule, as they had hosted the Giants in Week Five and traveled to play the Lions in Week 11. It would also mark the third year in a row that the Panthers have traveled to Detroit.