The era of bridge quarterbacks in Carolina is officially over after they selected Bryce Young with the first overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. As they take their first steps into becoming a competitive team for the first time in several years, the Panthers have lucked out with arguably the weakest division in the NFL. So even if they don’t reach the double digit win mark, we could still easily see Bryce Young in a playoff game this season.
9/10 @ Falcons: Win
The Panthers open up with a division rival, traveling to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. The Falcons have a pretty lackluster roster with a major hole at QB, so I think the Panthers will cruise to a pretty easy win in Bryce Young’s first game as an NFL Starter.
9/18 vs Saints: Win
Carolina will play another division rival in week two, this time they have a date with the Derek Carr led Saints. I think this will be a close game, but time and time again Young has shown he can be a fantastic leader who has a major clutch gene. I’ll take the Panthers to start the season 2-0.
9/24 @ Seahawks: Loss
Carolina picks up its first loss of the season in Seattle, which would be nothing to be ashamed of. The Seahawks were a playoff team last year and they only got better over the offseason. I don’t think the Panthers will be able to keep up with Seattle’s absurd receiver core of DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and rookie Jaxon Smith-Njigba.
10/1 vs Vikings: Loss
This one will be a high scoring affair, this offseason the Vikings replaced an aging Adam Theilin when they selected Jordan Addison with their first round pick, adding onto their top 8 offense from last season. The Vikings had a very unsustainable run of one score wins last season, but I think they win by at least two scores in this one.
10/8 @ Lions: Win
The mainstream media is extremely high on the Lions this offseason, and I’m really just not sold on that narrative at all. The Lions had two first round picks to really solidify themselves as a playoff team and they blew it. I think the Panthers outlast the Lions and get back on track before a tough matchup in Miami.
10/15 @ Dolphins: Loss
The Dolphins have the fastest offense of all time with a head coach that I am extremely confident in. I just think these teams are on two different levels at the moment. expect the Dolphins to win this game by a couple of scores.
10/29 vs Texans: Loss
This one may come as a surprise, but I think the Texans will be a much better team than some expect this season. I like their weapons on offense and their young developing defensive assets like Derek Stingley Jr and Will Anderson Jr. I think this game will be close, but ultimately the number two pick stands victorious against number one.
11/5 vs Colts: Win
For the second consecutive week, Bryce Young faces off against a fellow top quarterback in the 2023 draft class. I think the Colts got better over the offseason and their long-term trajectory is looking up. However, I think Young gets the best of AR here and the Panthers capture their fourth win of the season.
11/9 @ Bears: Loss
I genuinely believe Justin Fields takes a year three leap similar to what we saw from Jalen Hurts and Josh Allen in recent years. The Bears are ready to become competitors in their division for the first time in several seasons. I think this game has great potential for a back and forth quarterback battle, but the Bears narrowly pull it out at home.
11/19 vs Cowboys: Loss
The Cowboys are a potential winner of one of the toughest divisions in football, and the Panthers just are not on that level yet. I’m pretty high on Dallas this year, and this may be one of the few times where Carolina is just overpowered and the game isn’t even close.
11/26 @ Titans: Win
After a pretty large margin of defeat the week prior, the Panthers bounce back against a weak Titans offense. Derrick Henry can’t hold up forever, and they are seriously lacking in the receiver department. Maybe Will Levis can provide a spark, but regardless I think the Panthers win this game comfortably.
12/3 @ Buccaneers: Win
Carolina builds off the win from the week before and wins a divisional matchup against a Tampa team that is possibly in contention for the number one overall pick after Tom Brady retired. This game should not be too tough but anything can happen in divisional games, the Panthers keep pushing for the playoffs with a huge matchup the next week in New Orleans.
12/10 @ Saints: Loss
The Panthers split the season series with the Saints, which I think they would’ve signed up for immediately before the season. By this point in the season I think Derek Carr and Chris Olave would have developed some chemistry and hopefully Michael Thomas will be healthy. I’m taking the Saints at home in a close one.
12/17 vs Falcons: Win
The Panthers sweep the Falcons, who still don’t have too many positives outside their offensive weapons. The Panthers hold the quarterback advantage in this game and I think they win a game with large implications for their playoff hopes.
12/24 vs Packers: Loss
I think this is a sneaky great matchup between two relatively even matched teams. I think Jordan Love will have a solid first year as a starter, but this will be a low scoring game on both sides. The Packers win in a slow grind it out type game, utilizing their superior rushing tandem of Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon to ice the game.
12/31 @ Jaguars: Loss
I think the Panthers are outmatched in this one. The Jaguars are a possible Super Bowl contender this season, and the Panthers can’t compete with them just yet. All they can do now is beat the Buccaneers next week and hope it’s good enough to slide into a wildcard spot.
1/7 vs Buccaneers: Win
The Panthers take care of business at home in their last game of the regular season. If this is it, the Panthers built a solid foundation of eight wins in Bryce Young’s first season, with hopes for improvement next year. If they can sneak into the playoffs, it will obviously be a tremendous success, and earn Bryce Young some valuable playoff experience.
I think this is a realistic outcome for the Panthers this season. They are obviously gifted with some weak division opponents but they will be a solid team that will be in the hunt for the majority of the season. The goal of this year was to develop Young into the best version of himself, and if that is accomplished I’m really not sure their record matters all that much.