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2012 opponents set

With the conclusion of the 2011 regular season, Carolina's opponents for the 2012 season have been determined. The Panthers will play 11 games against teams that finished the year with a .500 or better record, including six contests against opponents who made the playoffs during the 2011 campaign.

In addition to home and away games against NFC South foes Atlanta, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, Carolina will play all four teams from both the NFC East and AFC West. The Panthers' remaining two 2012 intraconference opponents are based on the 2011 standings. Carolina will play at Chicago and host Seattle since all three teams finished third in their respective divisions.

Dates and times will not be announced by the NFL until the spring. After that, an on-sale date for single-game tickets to Panthers home games for the 2012 season will be determined.

Atlanta Falcons (10-6) Atlanta Falcons (10-6)
New Orleans Saints (13-3) New Orleans Saints (13-3)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-12)
Dallas Cowboys (8-8) Philadelphia Eagles (8-8)
New York Giants (9-7) Washington Redskins (5-11)
Denver Broncos (8-8) Kansas City Chiefs (7-9)
Oakland Raiders (8-8) San Diego Chargers (8-8)
Seattle Seahawks (7-9) Chicago Bears (8-8)

Following are a few notes on the Panthers' 2012 opponents:

• Head coach Ron Rivera will face every single team with which he has coached: Chicago (1997-98, 2004-06), Philadelphia (1999-2003) and San Diego (2007-10).
• Quarterback Cam Newton could square off against Denver quarterback Tim Tebow, his former teammate at the University of Florida, and Philadelphia quarterback Michael Vick, whom he admired while growing up in Atlanta when Vick played for the Falcons.
• Former Carolina head coach John Fox (2002-10) will bring the Denver Broncos to Bank of America Stadium.
• The Panthers have not beaten Dallas or Philadelphia since the 2003 playoffs, losing four consecutive games to the Cowboys and three straight to the Eagles.
• Carolina will play Chicago for the fourth time in the last five years and for the third consecutive season since former defensive end Julius Peppers joined the Bears in 2009.

The NFL's scheduling formula implemented in 2002 with realignment guarantees that all teams play each other on a regular, rotating basis. Under the formula, every team within a division plays 16 games as follows:

• Home and away games against its three division opponents (six games).
• The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (four games).
• The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (four games).
• Two intraconference teams based on the prior year's standings (two games).

Beginning in 2010, a change was made to how teams are paired in the schedule rotation to ensure that teams playing the AFC and NFC West divisions would not have to make two west coast trips (e.g. at San Francisco and at Seattle), while other teams in their division had none (e.g. at. St. Louis and at Arizona).

For example, the last time the NFC South was matched up against the AFC West in 2008, the Panthers had road games against Oakland and San Diego. However, that will not be the case in 2012 as Carolina will play Oakland at home but will travel to San Diego. As a result, the Panthers will not host San Diego or play at Denver again until 2016. The Chargers last visited the Queen City and the Panthers last played in the Mile High City in 2004.

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