CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers will host the Super Bowl champion New York Giants in a Week 3 primetime tilt, one of two nationally televised games on the schedule released Tuesday by the NFL.
In addition to the Giants game, set for Thursday, Sept. 20, on the NFL Network, the Panthers will visit the Philadelphia Eagles for an appearance on ESPN's Monday Night Football on Nov. 26, their first Monday night game since 2009.
"We've known who we're going to play since the end of the season, but when the schedule comes out, the first thing everybody looks for is to see if you have national games," Panthers general manager Marty Hurney said Tuesday on Panthers Pulse. "It means a lot. I think that's why Mr. (Jerry) Richardson brought the organization to the Carolinas – because he wanted to generate the excitement that those games generate."
The remainder of the season's opening month features showdowns with NFC South foes, starting with a trip to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to kick off the season Sept. 9 and the home opener a week later against the New Orleans Saints.
The Panthers will then visit the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, marking just the third time in team history that Carolina will face each division opponent over the first four weeks of the season.
"We had a strong finish last year and hope to maintain that momentum for the 2012 season," said Ron Rivera, whose Panthers closed his first season as head coach with four victories in six games. "We play in one of the best divisions in the NFL and play all three division teams plus the New York Giants in the first four games. It's going to be a challenge, but one that excites us."
The Panthers will visit each of Rivera's previous three NFL coaching stops, with trips to Philly, Chicago and San Diego.
In addition to releasing the regular season schedule Tuesday, the Panthers also set the dates and times for their preseason schedule.
|Sat.||Aug. 11||vs. Houston Texans||Bank of America Stadium||7:00 p.m.||Panthers TV|
|Fri.||Aug. 17||vs. Miami Dolphins||Bank of America Stadium||8:00 p.m.||Panthers TV|
|Sun.||Aug. 26||at New York Jets||MetLife Stadium||8:00 p.m.||NBC|
|Thu.||Aug. 30||at Pittsburgh Steelers||Heinz Field||7:30 p.m.||Panthers TV|
|Sun.||Sept. 9||at Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Raymond James Stadium||4:15 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Sept. 16||vs. New Orleans Saints||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Thu.||Sept. 20||vs. New York Giants||Bank of America Stadium||8:20 p.m.||NFLN|
|Sun.||Sept. 30||at Atlanta Falcons||Georgia Dome||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Oct. 7||vs. Seattle Seahawks||Bank of America Stadium||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Oct. 21||vs. Dallas Cowboys||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Oct. 28||at Chicago Bears||Soldier Field||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Nov. 4||at Washington Redskins||FedEx Field||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|Sun.||Nov. 11||vs. Denver Broncos||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|Sun.||Nov. 18||vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m. *||FOX|
|Mon.||Nov. 26||at Philadelphia Eagles||Lincoln Financial Field||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|Sun.||Dec. 2||at Kansas City Chiefs||Arrowhead Stadium||1:00 p.m. *||FOX|
|Sun.||Dec. 9||vs. Atlanta Falcons||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m. *||FOX|
|Sun.||Dec. 16||at San Diego Chargers||Qualcomm Stadium||4:05 p.m. *||FOX|
|Sun.||Dec. 23||vs. Oakland Raiders||Bank of America Stadium||1:00 p.m. *||CBS|
|Sun.||Dec. 30||at New Orleans Saints||Mercedes-Benz Superdome||1:00 p.m. *||FOX|
|* - Subject to flexible scheduling.|
The Panthers will play four of their first six games at Bank of America Stadium, capping the stretch with a visit by the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7 following their bye.
They're scheduled to play every NFC East and every AFC West member next season but don't face their first AFC West opponent until Week 10, when the Denver Broncos come to town featuring former Panthers coach John Fox and newly acquired quarterback Peyton Manning.
Starting with the Monday night game Week 12 at Philadelphia, the Panthers will play four of their final six regular season games away from home, wrapping up the slate Dec. 30 at the Saints.
The postseason also will end on the Saints' homefield – the Mercedes-Benz Superdome – with Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013.