Carolina Panthers release 2020 schedule

Carolina Panthers graphic by MGN.
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (PANTHERS) -- The Panthers will begin and end their 2020 regular-season schedule at home for the second straight year, opening up against the Raiders and closing with the division-rival Saints.

There was speculation the NFL would front-load the schedule with non-conference matchups and place most divisional contests toward the end of the year as a contingency plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that is not the case. The Panthers have just one divisional matchup in the season's final six weeks.

Carolina will begin taking on the NFC South in Week 2, heading to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers and new quarterback Tom Brady. The Panthers will be done with their divisional road matchups by the end of October, playing at Atlanta in Week 5 and at New Orleans in Week 7.

Besides their traditional run of games against the NFC South, the Panthers will also face the entire NFC North and AFC West. That means a date with the defending Super Bowl champs when Carolina travels to Kansas City in Week 9.

The Panthers have only one primetime game currently scheduled, a Week 8 home meeting with the Falcons on Thursday Night Football. There is a possibility of at least one other night game, as the Week 15 matchup at Green Bay is in the Saturday pool. The exact day and time will be determined midway through the season, but the sure-to-be-cold matchup in Wisconsin will take place on either Saturday, Dec. 19 or Sunday, Dec. 20. Last year, the NFL had a triple-header in Week 16, with games starting at 1:00 p.m., 4:30 p.m., and 8:15 p.m on Saturday, Dec. 21.

Carolina will have a particularly late bye in Week 13 — the first weekend in December. And the club's only divisional matchup scheduled in the final seven weeks is a season-ender against the Saints at Bank of America Stadium. That will mark the 11th time the Panthers have closed the regular season against New Orleans, the most of any opponent.

The Panthers' preseason opponents will be the Jaguars, Patriots, Ravens, and Steelers, respectively. Carolina will host Jacksonville and Pittsburgh and travel to New England and Baltimore. The exact dates and times for the preseason schedule will be announced at a later date, aside from the game against the Ravens. That's scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 30 at 8:00 p.m. and will be nationally televised on NBC.

While the league is planning to play the full 2020 season as scheduled, it will do so under increased protocols and safety measures for all players, team personnel, and fans. The NFL will fully comply with current and future government regulations, with the league and its teams prepared to make necessary adjustments to the schedule based on the advice of medical professionals and public health officials.