The Carolina Panthers already know what teams they’re playing in 2015, and Tuesday night they’ll find out when.
The NFL will announce the 2015 schedule at 8 p.m. Tuesday, and Carolina will learn its slate as the team goes for a third consecutive playoff appearance.
Along with the usual home-and-away series with NFC South rivals Tampa Bay, New Orleans and Atlanta, the Panthers will host Philadelphia, Washington, Houston, Indianapolis and Green Bay. Carolina will travel to Dallas, the New York Giants, Jacksonville, Tennessee and Seattle.
Here are three things to watch:
Prime-time games: Carolina had three prime-time games last season, and the Panthers will have multiple prime-time games again this season.
All NFL teams must play on Thursday Night Football, and in the past those games are typically divisional games – at least in Carolina’s case. Last year of the three prime-time games, two were at home (New Orleans and Pittsburgh).
Timing of Dallas: Although the Cowboys will host the Panthers this year, there’s no guarantee of a Carolina vs. Greg Hardy game.
Depending on the length of Hardy’s likely NFL suspension and when the Dallas game is scheduled, the Panthers could avoid facing their former Pro Bowl defensive end, who has signed with the Cowboys as a free agent. Any meeting within the first six weeks of the season could mean Hardy isn’t on the field against his former team.
Cream of the crop: One of Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman’s goals is to have a team built to beat the best team it plays. This year the Panthers get the two-time conference champion Seahawks and the Packers, last year’s runners up.
Carolina played both teams last year in back-to-back weeks during a two-month winless stretch. The NFL likely won’t do that again, but it’ll be important to note when those two games will be slated for later this year.