Carolina Panthers' schedule 2023: Takeaways, predictions

Who will No. 1 overall pick Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers face in his first game in the NFL? AP Photo/Chris Carlson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers’ 2023 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.

Getting two prime-time games reflects the national interest in former Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, the No. 1 overall pick of the this year's draft and 2021 Heisman Trophy winner.

Carolina hasn’t had more than one game under the lights in a season since 2018, which was also the last time it was on Monday Night Football. This season they face the New Orleans Saints on MNF in Week 2.

Fittingly, that gives Young a chance to excel under the lights in his first home game for Carolina.

Here's what's in store for the Panthers:


Sept. 10: at Atlanta

Sept. 18: vs. New Orleans (MNF)

Sept. 24: at Seattle

Oct. 1: vs. Minnesota

Oct. 8: at Detroit

Oct. 15: at Miami

Oct. 22: BYE

Oct. 29: vs. Houston

Nov. 5: Indianapolis

Nov. 9: at Chicago (TNF)

Nov. 19: vs. Dallas

Nov. 26: at Tennessee

Dec. 3: at Tampa Bay

Dec. 10: at New Orleans

Dec. 16 or 17: vs. Atlanta

Dec. 24: vs. Green Bay

Dec. 31: at Jacksonville

Jan. 6 or 7: vs. Tampa Bay

Strength of schedule: .453 (27th toughest)

Over/Under: 7.5

Biggest takeaway

Young may only be a rookie, but star quarterbacks like him attract prime-time games (See Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes, etc.). Carolina had only seven prime-time games the past five seasons after having a team-record five in 2016 with Cam Newton the quarterback coming off a trip to the Super Bowl.

Young not only brings the Panthers star power, he brings them credibility they didn’t have the past three seasons with retread quarterbacks.

Revenge game

It’s hard to imagine Chicago Bears wide receiver DJ Moore calling this a “blood and guts’’ game the way Steve Smith Sr. did in 2014 the first time he faced Carolina after the team moved on from him and he signed with Baltimore. Moore is not that kind of guy. But this is a chance for Moore to show the Panthers they made a mistake in trading him to Chicago as part of the deal to acquire the first pick of the draft to get Young.

And while we’re on revenge for wide receivers, Carolina’s Adam Thielen has to be licking his chops for a Week 4 game against the Minnesota Vikings, who moved on from him because of his age (32) and large salary cap number.

Bold prediction

Young, currently listed second on the depth chart behind Andy Dalton, will be the Week 1 starter against Atlanta. He’ll get off to a 2-0 start on his way to winning Offensive Rookie of the Year just as Newton did in 2011 after being the No. 1 overall pick of that draft. Young will one-up Newton (6-10 as a rookie) by leading Carolina to the playoffs for the first time since 2017 in an NFC South that is up for grabs since the retirement of Tom Brady.