Super Bowl Rematch Week 1
The first game the Carolina Panthers looked for was when they would play the Denver Broncos, a rematch of Super Bowl 50. Well the Panthers won't have to wait long as the last game of the 2015 season, is the first game of the 2016 season as the two teams will meet Week 1 on Thursday, September 8th.
This is the first time since 1970 that the two teams from the previous Super Bowl will meet on Kickoff Weekend, and first time ever meeting on Thursday night.
Ron Rivera will now be able to point to this game for the remainder of the offseason and focus the team on getting revenge for their loss in the Super Bowl. The Panthers though will have to be on the sidelines as the Broncos raise their Super Bowl banner, which hopefully will only motivate them even more.
Face Four of Five NFC Playoff Teams from 2015
The Panthers will face four of the five other teams in the NFC playoffs a season ago (Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals). The Panthers will play the Vikings at home in Week 3 and the Cardinals in Week 11 followed by road games against Seattle in Week 13 and Washington in Week 15.
The Panthers start the 2016 season in prime-time and will have four more prime-time games after Week 1. The Panthers will play two Monday Night games (Week 5 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Week 15, at Washington Redskins) as well as Thursday night game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 11 and a Sunday night game against the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15.
The Panthers will play three of these prime-time games over a five week period from Week 11 to Week 15. Last season, the Panthers had back to back prime-time games in Weeks 7 and 8.
The Panthers bye week comes almost right in the middle of the 2016 season as they will be off Week 7 this year, which is two weeks later than last year's Week 5 bye.
However, the Panthers have extended stretches throughout the season thanks to their prime-time games. After their Week 1 showdown with the Broncos, the team will have 10 days off before their next game, the home opener against the San Francisco 49ers in Week 2. They will also have 10 days off before their Week 12 match-up with the Oakland Raiders.
The downside though is the Panthers on three occasions will have short weeks, including only five days between their Monday night game against the Washington Redskins and a Christmas Eve showdown with the Atlanta Falcons.
Finishing the Season On the Road
The Panthers will be spending plenty of time on the road at the end of the season with four of their final six games away from Bank of America Stadium. The Panthers start this stretch with two games on the West Coast with a game in Oakland followed by a game in Seattle. The coaching staff could potentially decide to not travel back to Carolina between games to limit jet lag and fatigue.
The Panthers then alternate home and away games the rest of the regular season with a game against the San Diego Chargers, on the road against the Washington Redskins, home against the Atlanta Falcons and then wrapping up the regular season in Tampa Bay against the Bucs.