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2020 NFL schedule: Three Panthers games to circle

Editor's note: is breaking down all 32 team schedules for the 2020 season. Here are the three games Carolina Panthers fans should circle on their calendars this fall:

Carolina Panthers at Washington Redskins, Week 16, Dec. 27, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

It was following the loss to Washington at home last December that Carolina parted ways with Ron Rivera. This will be the first time in his head coaching career that Rivera, flanked by several former Panthers players and coaches, will man a sideline opposite Carolina on game day. Much like it was during the Rivera era, building a strong defense remains a priority, something Matt Rhule made clear with the draft and offseason after inheriting one of last season's worst units. Although the new-look Panthers won't be concerning themselves too much with the past moving forward, it's worth noting the club hasn't lost at FedEx Field since 2006; considering the obvious ties to the opposition, now would not be a good time for that to happen again.

New Orleans Saints at Carolina Panthers, Week 17, Dec. 20, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

It's hard to add more juice to division matchups, but this one is going to have a little extra oomph. Fresh off a career-reviving run with the Saints, Teddy Bridgewater will get the chance to show them what he learned playing behind Drew Brees for the past two seasons. Of course, Bridgewater will get two chances to do that, but beating his old team at The Bank in the season finale would make "Sweet Caroline" sound that much sweeter blaring over the loudspeaker. All-world running back Christian McCaffrey will be looking to cash in against a tough defense that didn't allow a 100-yard rusher all last season. For the Panthers D, which finished 2019 with the second-worst scoring defense, containing Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara will be a tall task, especially without anchor Luke Kuechly. But if this group wants to prove they've improved from a year ago, containing last season's third-best offense and pushing Carolina to its first home win over New Orleans since 2016 would be a huge step toward doing that.

Carolina Panthers at Minnesota Vikings, Week 12, Nov. 29, 1 p.m. ET (FOX)

Six years after his debut with the Vikings, Bridgewater will play against Minnesota for the first time in his career in a contest that, at least on paper, favors his new crew. Receivers D.J. Moore and newcomer Robby Anderson will face a secondary that lost both its starting corners this offseason while McCaffrey faces a frontline that allowed the 13th fewest rush yards per game in 2019. Dalvin Cook's game-breaking ability still must be accounted for, but Stefon Diggs' absence could make it challenging for Kirk Cousins and the offense to get it going. Not since 2014 has Bridgewater been entrenched as a team's QB1; given the weapons around him, this has the potential to be a successful homecoming for the former first-rounder.

Check out the full Panthers schedule below:

Sept. 13 vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sept. 20 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Sept. 27 at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m. (CBS)
Oct. 4 vs. Arizona Cardinals, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 11 at Atlanta Falcons, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 18 vs. Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 25 at New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Oct. 29 vs. Atlanta Falcons, 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon**)
Nov. 8 at Kansas City Chiefs, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Nov. 15 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Nov. 22 vs. Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Nov. 29 at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. (FOX)
Dec. 6 -- BYE
Dec. 13 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Dec. 19 or 20 at Green Bay Packers, TBD (TBD)
Dec. 27 at Washington Redskins, 1 p.m. (CBS)
Jan. 3 vs. New Orleans Saints, 1 p.m. (FOX)

  • Sunday night games in Weeks 5-16 subject to change; Week 17 game TBD
    **NFL Network and Amazon simulcast subject to change
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