|3||New Orleans Saints||Home||Win|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Home||Win|
The Carolina Panthers have always been a slow starting team under head coach Ron Rivera. Over the past four seasons during the first four games, the team has a combined record of 5-11. Last year was the first year the team was able to grab two wins in the first four weeks.
Well, if the Panthers want to win their third straight division title, they can’t afford a slow start and I don’t think that will happen. I actually think they head into their Week 5 bye without a loss. There toughest game is going to be the home opener against the Texans. Both teams have solid defenses and this will most likely be a low scoring contest. The difference will be the better caliber quarterback and run game the Panthers have.
|9||Green Bay Packers||Home||Win|
The next four games after the bye week is by far the toughest stretch of games for the Panthers. They will first have to travel to Seattle to take on the Seahawks. They have yet to win a game in Seattle and I don’t believe that trend will change in 2015.
The secondary is going to be really tested in Weeks 8 and 9 when the team will have to face two of the best quarterbacks in the league, Colts’ Andrew Luck and Packers’ Aaron Rodgers. These four games will be a great test for this team and to find out exactly where they stack up against the top teams in the NFL. I believe a .500 record over these four games is more than possible.
|13||New Orleans Saints||Away||Loss|
The first game in this group of games is the definition of a trap game. The Tennessee Titans is a team that is still rebuilding and will have a rookie quarterback under center in Marcus Mariota. The level of competition in this game will not be nearly on the same level as the previous four games. The Titans have a decent defense and should keep this game close.
The Panthers also will be traveling to Dallas to take on the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and former teammate Greg Hardy. Teams have struggled to win in Dallas on Thanksgiving and I don’t think the Panthers are able to grab a win here. While the caliber of the opponent is a little lower than the previous four games, I believe this will be the Panthers worst stretch in terms of record.
|15||New York Giants||Away||Win|
|17||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Home||Win|
I believe the Panthers are going to end on a high note, as they have in years past, and win three of their final four games. The key to these final four games will be their matchups against the Atlanta Falcons, who they play twice in a three week span. The Falcons have a new head coach and made a number of changes on the defensive side of the ball. However, they still have Matt Ryan and Julio Jones and these could end up as shootouts. I see the Panthers splitting with the Falcons but winning the other two matchups.
Final Record: 10-6
Entering this season, I believe this Carolina Panthers team is capable of winning 10 games, which should be good enough for their third straight division title. The Saints and Falcons, while they have top tier quarterbacks, they have major question marks on the defensive side of the ball. The Panthers are the most well-rounded team and if they can grab two or more wins during that four game stretch from Week 6 to 9, the NFC South should be theirs for the taking.
Follow me on Twitter @BrandonCroce.