Carolina Panthers 2017 Season Simulation
Just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl appearance and coming off a dismal year they’d rather forget, the Carolina Panthers will be looking to reclaim their NFC Championship title and return to the Super Bowl. The NFC South has become one of the most hard-fought divisions in the league with all four teams capable of taking the top spot.
Key factors this season will be the effectiveness of quarterback Cam Newton’s offseason shoulder surgery. Returning weapon Kelvin Benjamin will help to increase the passing attack while rookie Christian McCaffrey looks to solidify and add consistency to the run game. This season could definitely be the resurgence Carolina needs to bring home the Lombardi Trophy come February.
Week 1 (9/10) @ San Francisco 49ers
Even with the 49ers in the process of rebuilding and restructuring, this game will be no cakewalk for Carolina. The solid 49ers running core led by Carlos Hyde will take advantage of the injury plagued Carolina secondary. Being the former offensive coordinator for Atlanta, San Francisco’s new head coach Kyle Shanahan is familiar with Carolina’s defense. His familiarity with Brian Hoyer should also give the 49ers the edge they need in this matchup.
Result: Loss CAR 23 – SF 27
Week 2 (9/17) vs. Buffalo Bills
In the season home opener, Carolina will face their former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. Now the head coach for the Bills, McDermott undoubtedly has the insider knowledge to disrupt Newton and offense. Even though McDermott is not afraid to run the ball with LeSean McCoy every down, this game will come down to which quarterback has the best game. Although Tyrod Taylor and Buffalo will play better than expected, this day will belong to Newton and the Panthers.
Result: Win BUF 17 CAR 31
Week 3 (9/24) vs. New Orleans Saints
Just like the first two games, the first division game of the season will bring a familiar face back to Carolina. Receiver Ted Ginn Jr. may not be on top ten lists but his added impressive reps, due to Willie Snead’s suspension, should still prove challenging. The saving grace here will be the 12th man. Home field advantage will propel Carolina on both sides of the ball.
Result: Win NO 23 CAR 33
Record: 2-1 / 1-0
Week 4 (10/1) @ New England Patriots
Tom Brady and the Patriots will be riding the high of winning last year’s Super Bowl and trying to carve their way to a repeat. Winning in Foxborough will be tough but not impossible. With wide receiver Julian Edelman out for the season, the Patriots will still be filling that huge void at this point in the season. Carolina’s Kelvin Benjamin will be the star wide receiver of the day. Solid, smart play from both offenses and defenses will be key to pulling off one of the biggest upsets of the season.
Result: Win NE 14 CAR 21
Week 5 (10/8) @ Detroit Lions
The last time Carolina played Detroit in 2011, the Lions put up 49 points. Needless to say, for Carolina, redemption is the name of the game. Panthers defense will be in full effect with veteran Julius Peppers and a healthy Luke Kuechly leading the way but it won’t be enough to overcome the home team. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford will lead an aggressive offensive attack and come out on top.
Result: Loss DET 17 CAR 14
Week 6 (10/12) vs. Philadelphia Eagles
Coming off a tough loss to Detroit and dealing with a short week of preparation, Carolina will really have to utilize their run game and play action to fool Philadelphia’s defense this week. This could be rookie running back Christian McCaffrey’s breakout week but it is unlikely to be enough to stop Carson Wentz and company. Carolina will fall victim to fatigue and be outplayed by an Eagles squad ready to bounce back after a tough week against the Arizona Cardinals.
Result: Loss PHI 27 CAR 21
Week 7 (10/22) @ Chicago Bears
The Bears have been arguably one of the worst teams in the league the past several seasons. The Panthers will have their way on both sides of the ball after having a few extra days rest following their appearance in the Thursday night game the previous week. Essentially this will be the game to work out any kinks or schemes Carolina wants to execute against division rivals next week.
Result: Win CHI 10 CAR 35
Week 8 (10/29) @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers
In the second division game for the Panthers, the Buccaneers will be flaunting their new offensive weapon DeSean Jackson in an effort to top the NFC South. Together Jackson and Mike Evans will prove to be too much of a coverage nightmare for the Carolina defense.
Result: Loss TB 21 CAR 17
Record: 4-4 / 1-1
Week 9 (11/5) vs. Atlanta Falcons
Chasing their dominance of the NFC South last year, Matt Ryan and the Falcons look to lock down another division title. Carolina’s defense has to be stingy with yardage. Trying to keep Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman contained will be a tough task for the Panthers. This is bound to be an intense game that comes down to the last play.
Result: Win ATL 7 CAR 9
Record: 5-4 / 2-1
Week 10 (11/13) vs. Miami Dolphins
Monday Night Football!! With the Dolphins not having made substantial moves in the offseason this game is likely to be all Carolina. Jay Cutler will have a good game but Cam Newton will put on a clinic. Expect Fozzy Whittaker and Christian McCaffrey to ground and pound the Miami defense. Carolina will head into the bye week with a solid win.
Result: Win MIA 12 CAR 35
Week 11 Bye
Week 12 (11/26) @ New York Jets
The Panthers come off the bye week more confident and ready for the second half of the regular season. This should be an easy game for Carolina. Instability and inconsistency have plagued the Jets for years and this game will be no different for the rising Panthers.
Results: Win NYJ 3 CAR 24
Week 13 (12/3) @ New Orleans Saints
Stopping Drew Brees will be a tall order for Carolina’s defense. This will be a make or break game for the Saints, both divisional and overall. The second and final meeting will be played hard by both teams. Adrian Peterson will have found his place in this Saints offense but ultimately the Panthers will leave New Orleans positioned to top the NFC South.
Result: Win NO 14 CAR 17
Record: 8-4 / 3-1
Week 14 (12/10) vs. Minnesota Vikings
Still feeling the high from beating New Orleans, Newton and squad come home to continue their win streak. Although Minnesota’s offensive situation is chaos at best, head coach Mike Zimmer will make sure his top five defense gives Carolina a run for their money. This battle will end in the Panthers favor.
Result: Win MIN 9 CAR 12
Week 15 (12/17) vs. Green Bay Packers
One of the best teams in December, the Aaron Rodgers-led Packers will pull punches in this late season game. While the scheduling gods spared the Panthers from playing Lambeau, it won’t help much against a hot Green Bay team looking to solidify its place in the postseason.
Result: Loss GB 28 CAR 17
Week 16 (12/24) vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers will come into this 5th division game determined to show their win against Carolina in the first matchup was no fluke. Looking to recover from a hard fought loss to Green Bay, the Panthers will be ready to shoot it out against a Tampa Bay team that has been unexpectedly effective this season.
Result: Win TB 7 CAR 13
Record: 10-5 / 4-1
Week 17 (12/31) @ Atlanta Falcons
This game will determine the winners and losers of the NFC South. The Panthers will have solidified a playoff appearance but will look to completely deflate Atlanta one last time this year. The key to a Carolina win will be keeping their defense off the field and smart quarterback play and ball handling.
Result: Win ATL 24 CAR 28
Record: 11-5 / 5-1 First Place In Division