Carolina Panthers release 2018 schedule

Professional Sports

FILE – In this Dec. 3, 2017 file photo, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) walks on the field after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans. The NFL and the Players Association announced the Panthers correctly followed concussion protocol guidelines when handling Newton’s injury during a first-round playoff loss […]

For the first time in franchise history, the Carolina Panthers will open the regular season against the Dallas Cowboys. The Panthers host the Cowboys on September 9, at 4:25 p.m. in Bank of America Stadium to kickoff the 2018 season.

It marks just the second time under head coach Ron Rivera, and first time since 2013, that the Panthers have opened the season at home.

The Panthers play the NFC East and the AFC North divisions along with the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks and the familiar NFC South foes – Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay. The Panthers will play six games against teams that qualified for the playoffs last season, while the NFC South put three teams in the playoffs for the first time in its history and the division’s 37 wins led all divisions in the NFL.

The Panthers will play two games in primetime, facing off against Pittsburgh on Thursday Night Football in Week 10 and hosting New Orleans on Monday Night Football in Week 15.

For the first time in franchise history, the longest road trip will be to New Orleans. The team will travel an approximate 4,060 miles on its eight regular season road trips, the lowest cumulative total in franchise history for a single season.

After a Week 2 contest at Atlanta, the Panthers host Cincinnati in Bank of America Stadium on September 23 in Week 3. The Bengals and Panthers played to a tie in the teams’ most recent meeting in 2014, the only tie in Panthers franchise history.

The Panthers will have the bye in Week 4, the earliest possible week for the bye. Carolina follows the off-week with three consecutive games against the NFC East, culminating with a trip to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles on October 21. This marks the third-consecutive season and 14th occurrence all-time that the Panthers have faced the defending Super Bowl champion.

After consecutive home games against the Ravens and Buccaneers, the Panthers will travel to Pittsburgh for a Thursday Night contest against the Steelers on Nov. 8 on FOX and NFL Network. The Panthers will be looking for the franchise’s first win in four regular season games at Pittsburgh.

The game against the Steelers marks the first of three straight games against teams with winning records last season, as the Steelers went 13-3 and advanced to the AFC Divisional Round. Carolina then travels to Detroit (9-7) before returning home to face Seattle (9-7) on November 25.

The game against the Seahawks marks the ninth meeting since 2010, with two of those games coming in the postseason. Carolina is 4-8 all-time against Seattle, but has won two of the last three.

The Panthers then enter the month of December, which has been a favorable month for Carolina under head coach Ron Rivera. Last season, Carolina went 3-2 with three straight home wins to clinch a playoff berth. Since 2011, the Panthers have won 23 games in December, tied for second in the NFL.

December of 2018 will begin with road contests at Tampa Bay and Cleveland, before concluding with a three-game stretch against division rivals.

The Panthers will face New Orleans at home on Monday Night Football on ESPN on December 17, before hosting Atlanta on December 23 and then traveling to New Orleans in the season finale on December 30. The stretch marks the latest in the schedule that Carolina has ever faced a division rival for the first time (Week 15). It also marks the eighth time in nine seasons that Carolina will have to close the regular season on the road.

The Panthers could end up making more Sunday primetime appearances under the league’s flex scheduling policy, which allows a time change for a total of two NFL games between Weeks 5-9 and for many more games from Weeks 10-15 and 17. Flex scheduling will not affect games already scheduled for Thursday, Saturday and Monday nights.

The Panthers also finalized the team’s preseason schedule. August 9 – at Buffalo (7 p.m.), August 17 – Miami (7:30 p.m.), August 24 – New England (7:30 p.m.), August 30 – at Pittsburgh (7:30 p.m.).

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