at Tampa Bay
Sept. 9, 4:25 p.m.
Series record: Panthers lead 14-9
Last season: Panthers swept series
Storylines: With the DNC in Charlotte, the Panthers spent the week in Tampa preparing for the opener. This will be their first meeting against new Bucs coach Greg Schiano, who took over for Raheem Morris. The Bucs had the 30th-ranked defense in 2011. The Panthers will look for their first Week 1 win since 2008.
vs. New Orleans
Sept. 16, 1 p.m.
Series record: Tied 17-17
Last season: Saints swept series
Storylines: Panthers LB Thomas Davis was upset with the Saints before learning that Cam Newton was among those targeted in the Saints bounty program. Davis didnt like the Saints leaving their starters in to rack up records in the second half of their 45-17 win in Week 17. Buckle up.
vs. New York Giants
Sept. 20 (Thu.), 8:20 p.m.
Series record: Giants lead 4-3
Last meeting: Giants won 31-18, Sept. 12, 2010
Storylines: The reigning Super Bowl champs come to Charlotte for a Thursday night matchup on the NFL Network. Jordan Gross, Ryan Kalil and the offensive line will try to protect Newton vs. one of the best pass-rushing teams in the league.
Sept. 30, 1 p.m.
Series record: Falcons lead 22-12
Last season: Falcons swept series
Storylines: Newton had his worst game last year in his hometown, throwing three interceptions in a 31-17 loss and then leaving the Georgia Dome without shaking hands with the Falcons. With the Saints dealing with the aftereffects of Bountygate, Atlanta looks like the team to beat in the NFC South.
Oct. 7, 4:05 p.m.
Series record: Tied 2-2
Last meeting: Seahawks won 31-14, Dec. 5, 2010
Storylines: Former N.C. State standout Russell Wilson returns to North Carolina as the Seahawks starting quarterback, providing he hasnt lost the spot to Matt Flynn by Week 5. The Panthers eyed Wilson as a potential backup in a mini-Cam package. But Pete Carroll liked him more, drafting him in the third round.
Week 6, bye
Oct. 21, 1 p.m.
Series record: Cowboys lead 8-3
Last meeting: Cowboys won 21-7, Sept. 28, 2009
Storylines: The Panthers will have an extra week to prepare for Tony Romo and Co. following their bye. Former Carolina linebacker Dan Connor returns to Charlotte after leaving as a free agent during the offseason. This will be the first week Panthers wideout David Gettis is eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list.
Oct. 28, 1 p.m.
Series record: Bears lead 4-3
Last meeting: Bears won 34-29, Oct. 2, 2011
Storylines: Devin Hester helped ruin Ron Riveras homecoming last year by returning a punt 69 yards for a touchdown one of three allowed by the Panthers punt team in 2011. Rookie punter Brad Nortman would be wise to keep the ball well away from No. 23.
Nov. 4, 1 p.m.
Series record: Redskins lead 7-3
Last meeting: Panthers won 33-20, Oct. 23, 2011
Storylines: The last two Heisman winners square off when Newton faces Robert Griffin III. RGIII got Newtons Heisman vote and could give the Panthers pass-rushers fits if they fail to contain. Mike Shanahan, 11-21 in his first two seasons in Washington, could be on the hot seat if the Redskins dont start strong.
Nov. 11, 1 p.m.
Series record: Broncos lead 2-1
Last meeting: Broncos won 30-10, Dec. 14, 2008
Storylines: John Fox, the only coach to lead the Panthers to the Super Bowl, will be on the visitors sideline at Bank of America Stadium for the first time as a head coach. But Foxs return could be upstaged by the Panthers second meeting with a Manning. Fans will pack BoA just to see if Fox would dare to call a third-down draw with Peyton.
vs. Tampa Bay
Nov. 18, 1 p.m.
Storylines: If the Panthers are going to challenge for a playoff berth, this is a game they have to win. At home against a division rival coming off a disappointing finish in 2011.
Nov. 26 (Mon.), 8:30 p.m.
Series record: Eagles lead 5-2
Last meeting: Eagles won 38-10, Sept. 13, 2009
Storylines: Emotions will be running high as will blood-alcohol levels in the stands for Newtons first Monday Night Football appearance. Newton grew up in Atlanta looking up to Michael Vick, who presumably will still be healthy in Week 12 after two injury-plagued seasons.
at Kansas City
Dec. 2, 1 p.m.
Series record: Tied 2-2
Last meeting: Panthers won 34-0, Oct. 5, 2008
Storylines: The first of two December road games against AFC West opponents. The Chiefs defense couldnt stop anybody during the preseason, and that was supposed to be their strength.
Dec. 9, 1 p.m.
Storylines: The Panthers had a chance to beat the Falcons at home last season before Olindo Mare hooked a chip-shot field-goal attempt wide left. Get a feeling this game might come down to a late-game kick, as well. Justin Medlock, your turn.
at San Diego
Dec. 16, 4:05 p.m.
Series record: Panthers lead 3-1
Last meeting: Panthers won 26-24, Sept. 7, 2008
Storylines: A homecoming game for Ron Rivera, Rob Chudzinski and all the ex-Chargers the Panthers have stockpiled on their roster. Rivera spent four years in San Diego under Norv Turner, who received a stay of execution last year after another strong late-season push by the Chargers.
Dec. 23, 1 p.m.
Series record: Tied 2-2
Last meeting: Panthers won 17-6, Nov. 9, 2008
Storylines: Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott interviewed with John Fox in Denver before joining Riveras staff. The guy Fox ended up hiring Dennis Allen is now the Raiders head coach. What does it all mean? Not sure, but there will be a lot of well-lubricated Raiders fans wearing elaborate costumes around BoA Stadium.
at New Orleans
Dec. 30, 1 p.m.
Storylines: The aforementioned McDermott watched his injury-depleted defense give up a franchise-record 617 yards last year on New Years Day in New Orleans. The Panthers had little to play for, while the playoff-bound Saints were setting franchise records every other series. Thomas Davis, McDermott and every other Panther hopes the roles are reversed in Week 17 this year.