Carolina Panthers’ 2021 opponents and strength of schedule

Who are the Carolina Panthers’ 2021 NFL opponents as they look to bounce back from a poor performance in the 2020 season? Let’s look at who the Panthers will play in 2021, and what that means in terms of their strength of schedule ranking compared to their rivals.

Who do the Panthers play in 2021?

The Panthers’ list of 2021 opponents will see them play the regular six games against the NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As is customary, the Panthers will face each of those three teams both at home and on the road during the 2021 season.

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In addition, the 2021 season will see the NFC South compete against the NFC East and AFC East for another eight games. Finally, the remaining two games on the traditional 16-game schedule will see the Panthers face the two teams that finished in third place of the NFC North (Minnesota Vikings) and NFC West (Arizona Cardinals).

What about the Panthers’ 17th game in 2021?

The 2021 season is expected to introduce a 17th regular season game for all NFL teams. Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport reported on that plans are in place to expand the regular season, although their report has yet to be officially confirmed by the NFL. Therefore, who would be the opponent for the Falcons’ 17th game in the 2021 season?

Reports suggest that a decision has been made on how the 17th game opponent will be decided. The matchup will be an interconference matchup based on standings on a rotational basis.

Albert Breer reports that the divisional alignments for the 2021 season had already been set. According to Breer, the NFC South will face the AFC South for the 17th game. Therefore, the Falcons’ opponent for their 17th game in 2020 would be the Houston Texans.

The Carolina Panthers’ 2021 opponents

Here are the teams that the Carolina Panthers will play against in the 2021 NFL season:

Home: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Washington Football Team, Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Minnesota Vikings

Road: Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, Arizona Cardinals

17th game (location TBD): Houston Texans

Carolina Panthers’ strength of schedule for 2021

As we look ahead towards the 2021 NFL season, how does the Panthers’ strength of schedule for 2021 shape up? The strength of schedule rankings here is based on the 2020 records of the Panthers’ 2021 opponents.

The Panthers have one of the easiest schedules in 2021

The Panthers’ 2021 strength of schedule ranks 26th in the league. They have the fifth-easiest schedule in the NFC but the second-toughest schedule in the NFC South. Only the New Orleans Saints project to have a tougher schedule within the division.

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The six games against their own division see the Panthers facing two teams who won a total of 23 of their 32 games. The Falcons won only four of their 16 games. The Panthers’ schedule sees them playing a total of six games against teams that made the playoffs last season. Four of those will be within their division against the Saints and Buccaneers. Meanwhile, the other two come against Washington and the Bills.

However, the remaining games see a far easier group of opponents. The Dolphins are the only other team to have won double-digit games. Therefore, the other 10 games will be against teams that won between one and eight games last season.

How does their schedule at home compare to their schedule on the road?

When it comes to the Panthers’ 2021 opponents, the Falcons have an intriguing home and road split. Their home schedule at Bank of America Stadium ranks as the 20th-toughest in the NFL. This is due to home matchups with the Falcons, Jets, and Eagles.

However, their road schedule ranks as the seventh-toughest in the league. The Panthers will have to travel to face both the Bills and Dolphins. Additionally, their game against the Cardinals sees them facing the best third-placed team from any NFC division.

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Ben Rolfe is a Senior Managing Editor at Pro Football Network and is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). You can find him on Twitter @BenRolfePFN.