CHARLOTTE, NC (WIS) - The 2018 NFL schedule has been announced and with it, the 2018 schedule of the Carolina Panthers.
While the opponents have been known, the dates and order remained a mystery until the schedule reveal occurred Thursday night on NFL Network. The Panthers open the season at home against the Cowboys before immediately heading to Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face the Falcons in Week 2.
Beyond that, the Panthers don't see an NFC South rival until November and end the season with four out of the last five games being against a divisional opponent, increasing the tension of the race for the division title, which the Panthers won last in 2015, but earned a wildcard playoff spot in 2017.
Carolina only has two primetime games this season. They have a Thursday Night Football game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh on November 8 and a Monday Night Football game at home against the New Orleans Saints on December 17.
Panthers have three division titles and four playoff appearances under head coach Ron Rivera, who took over as head coach in 2011. Rivera and former NFL MVP quarterback Cam Newton led the team to Super Bowl 50 in 2015 before losing to Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, prompting Manning's retirement from the NFL as the only quarterback in NFL history to win a Super Bowl with two different NFL franchises.
The Saints, who the Panthers will face in two of the team's final three games of the 2018 season, won the NFC South in 2017, defeating the Panthers in the Wild Card game. The Saints would go on to lose to the Case Keenum-led Minnesota Vikings, who signed Kirk Cousins in the offseason to be their new quarterback. Keenum is now a quarterback on the Denver Broncos.
Carolina still faces some adversity off the field, however, as the team's President position remains unfilled permanently and owner Jerry Richardson's very public bidding war for new ownership doesn't have an end in sight. Marty Hurney will enter his first full year of his second term as General Manager, being named interim last season after former GM Dave Gettleman was fired before training camp. Gettleman is now GM of the New York Giants, who the Panthers face at home on October 7.