Panthers Reportedly Open Season Against NFC South Rival

Adam Thielen had 1,014 receiving yards for the Panthers in 2023
Adam Thielen had 1,014 receiving yards for the Panthers in 2023 / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL schedule for the 2024-25 season will officially be released on Wednesday night, though we already know Carolina's first game of the year thanks to some leaks.

Joe Person of The Athletic reported on social media that the Panthers are slated to play in New Orleans against the Saints in Week 1 of the regular season on September 8th. This is a bit of a surprise given the NFL's recent preference to have divisional games at the end of the year, though Carolina gets an early opportunity to beat a division foe.

After last year's disastrous 2-15 record, this represents a great chance to prove things are different under head coach Dave Canales.

Panthers News: Carolina Playing New Orleans Saints in Week 1

New Orleans won both games between these teams last year, though Carolina won them both in the 2022-23 season. With Xavier Legette, Diontae Johnson, Jonathon Brooks, and the other additions to the roster, the Panthers should be much more competitive this season.

FanDuel Sportsbook currently has them +1400 ($10 to profit $140) to win the NFC South and the Saints at +340, so oddsmakers don't have much faith in a quick Panthers turnaround. Nonetheless, the gap in those odds would narrow considerably if Carolina starts the campaign with a win.

The NFC South was widely considered the worst division in the NFL in 2023. There's a real path to relevance for the Panthers even if the defense lost its best player in Brian Burns. If the offensive supporting cast gives Bryce Young a real chance to succeed and he capitalizes, we could be looking back on those +1400 odds as a steal.

Opening the year on the road is a tough task, but it's a great way nonetheless for Canales to prove what he can do with the roster. We'll see what the rest of the schedule looks like yet I'm excited about this first matchup regardless.

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