CHARLOTTE -- The defending NFC South champion Carolina Panthers will open the 2009 season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles and play three nationally televised night games including a Monday night affair early in the season against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Panthers also play a Thursday night game at home against the Miami Dolphins and a Sunday night game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings game is subject to change as part of the NFL's flex scheduling system.
“It is a challenging schedule, as we knew it would be when we saw who we were playing,” said head coach John Fox. “The NFC South is a very good division, so you know you are going to have a strong schedule before adding any other teams. The bye is earlier than last year, but it is after a Monday Night game on the road. Things can change a great deal during the course of a season, and our challenge is to put the best team we can on the field.”
With seven games against ’08 playoff teams, the Panthers face the NFL’s second most difficult schedule for the coming season.
The Panthers face playoff teams from last year in the opening two weeks, hosting Philadelphia in the regular season opener before going to Atlanta in Week Two.
Other playoff teams on the schedule are the NFC Champion Arizona Cardinals (Nov. 1), a rematch against the Falcons (Nov. 15), the Dolphins (Nov. 19), the Minnesota Vikings (Dec. 20), and the New York Giants (Dec. 27).
Based on last season’s records, the Panthers opponents for the season had a combined record of 151-104-1 for a winning percentage of .592. Only the Dolphins opponents had a better combined record at 152-104 for a winning percentage of .594.
The Panthers only opponent with a losing record from last season is Buffalo (7-9). The members of the NFC South and the NFC East, all of whom the Panthers play, did not have a team with less than a .500 record.
As defending NFC South Champions, the Panthers play four defending division champions in Arizona, Minnesota, Miami and the New York Giants.
The season opening game at home against the Eagles will be the first for Carolina since 2006 when they played the Falcons. The Panthers will close the season at home for the first time since 2004 when they also finished against the Saints.
Here is the 2009 regular season schedule:
Wk Date Matchup TV Time
Sun, Sept. 13 vs. Philadelphia Eagles FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Sept. 20 at Atlanta Falcons FOX 1 p.m.
Mon, Sept. 28 at Dallas Cowboys ESPN 8:30 p.m.
Sun, Oct. 11 vs. Washington Redskins FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Oct. 18 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Oct. 25 vs. Buffalo Bills CBS 4:05 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 1 at Arizona Cardinals FOX 4:15 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 8 at New Orleans Saints FOX 4:05 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 15 vs. Atlanta Falcons FOX 1 p.m.
Thu, Nov. 19 vs. Miami Dolphins NFLN 8:20 p.m.
Sun, Nov. 29 at New York Jets FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 6 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 13 at New England Patriots FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 20 vs. Minnesota Vikings NBC 8:20 p.m.
Sun, Dec. 27 at New York Giants FOX 1 p.m.
Sun, Jan. 3 vs. New Orleans Saints FOX 1 p.m.