As a huge Carolina Panthers fan, my hopes are high for a huge season in 2012. There are plenty of good reasons to think that the Panthers can compete in the NFC South and possibly even make it into the playoffs. Although the pieces are in place, the Panthers are facing some serious roadblocks on the schedule. The first five weeks of the regular season will go far towards determining the type of season the Panthers will have.
Three division games in four weeks to start the year
On the one hand, getting some divisional games out the way early is not such a bad idea. At least the Panthers might get off to a fantastic start in the standings. The flip side of this is that the Panthers could be facing a huge hole if they don't find a way to win at least two of these. The NFC South is one of the most loaded divisions in football, so facing these guys will be no joke. First up is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, then the New Orleans Saints and finally the Atlanta Falcons in week four.
The defending Super Bowl Champions in week three
Just in case the schedule wasn't tough enough, the Panthers get to host the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants in week three. That game is nationally televised and should be a great measuring stick for the franchise. Although the game will be a tough one, the divisional games concern me much more as a fan. The Seattle Seahawks are up in week five and many are also picking them as dark horses in the NFC. If the Panthers can manage to get two division wins and one of the two out of division games, they should be in decent position to contend as the year goes on.
Although the Carolina Panthers are clearly improved over last season, they will face some serious road blocks to start the year. This will be a good thing for them in the end, as they are getting some of the tougher games out of the way early. Hopefully, those high powered offenses in Atlanta and New Orleans will not be off the ground yet. Either way, I like our odds of at least finishing with three wins in that time frame. If we do, then the season should be perfectly set up moving forward.
*Southern is a huge Carolina Panthers fan that is convinced that he will see a Super Bowl Trophy in Charlotte within five years.
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