NFL releases 2017 schedule, Panthers open at San Francisco

Cam Newton
FILE - In this Dec. 6, 2015, file photo, Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) reacts in the first half of an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints, in New Orleans. The Panthers (13-0) play the New York Giants (6-7) on Sunday, Dec. 20, 2015, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Jonathan Bachman, File)

CHARLOTTE – The Carolina Panthers will open their 2017 season at the site of Super Bowl 50 and open their home schedule with a familiar face on the opposing sideline.

The Panthers will travel across the country to take on the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 10. A week later, they’ll host the Buffalo Bills and first-year head coach Sean McDermott, who served as Carolina’s defensive coordinator from 2011-16.

“Our coaching staff has already been hard at work preparing for our opponents, but it is always intriguing to find out when we’re playing the games,” head coach Ron Rivera said. “It will certainly be a challenge for us, and I’m looking forward to it.”

A limited number of single-game tickets for home games will go on sale April 29.

In Week 3, the Panthers open division play by hosting the New Orleans Saints before traveling to the reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to kick off a stretch of four road games in five weeks. The one home game in the stretch is the first of two primetime games on the schedule, when the Philadelphia Eagles visit in Week 6 for Thursday Night Football. The other primetime game also is at Bank of America Stadium, Week 10 against the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.

The Week 4 game against the Patriots is one of two against 2016 playoff teams the first half of the season, along a trip to the Lions the next week. The second half of the schedule features four such matchups, bookended by games against reigning NFC champion Atlanta in Weeks 9 and 17. Miami and Green Bay are the other playoff foes.

While the Panthers close the season at the Falcons – Carolina and Atlanta have claimed the last five NFC South titles between them – the Panthers have three consecutive home games leading into the finale.

The Panthers could end up making more Sunday primetime appearances under the league’s flex scheduling policy, which allows a time change for a total of two NFL games between Weeks 5-9 and for many more games from Weeks 10-15 and 17. Flex scheduling will not affect games already scheduled for Thursday, Saturday and Monday nights.

Sun. Sept. 10 at San Francisco 49ers 4:25 p.m. FOX
Sun. Sept. 17 vs. Buffalo Bills 1:00 p.m. CBS
Sun. Sept. 24 vs. New Orleans Saints 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 1 at New England Patriots 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Oct. 8 at Detroit Lions 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Thu. Oct. 12 vs. Philadelphia Eagles 8:25 p.m. CBS/NFLN/Amazon
Sun. Oct. 22 at Chicago Bears 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Oct. 29 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Nov. 5 vs. Atlanta Falcons 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Mon. Nov. 13 vs. Miami Dolphins 8:30 p.m. ESPN
Sun. Nov. 26 at New York Jets 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 3 at New Orleans Saints 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 10 vs. Minnesota Vikings 1:00 p.m.* CBS
Sun. Dec. 17 vs. Green Bay Packers 1:00 p.m.* FOX
Sun. Dec. 24 vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1:00 p.m. FOX
Sun. Dec. 31 at Atlanta Falcons 1:00 p.m.* FOX
* – Subject to flexible scheduling.
Wed. Aug. 9 vs. Houston Texans 7:30 p.m. Panthers TV
Sat. Aug. 19 at Tennessee Titans 3:00 p.m. Panthers TV
Thu. Aug. 24 at Jacksonville Jaguars 7:30 p.m. Panthers TV
Thu. Aug. 31 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers 7:30 p.m. Panthers TV

The team also finalized its preseason schedule. Carolina opens Wednesday, August 9 at Bank of America Stadium against the Houston Texans. The preseason opener typically isn’t played before Thursday, but one of pro golf’s majors – the PGA Championship – tees off in Charlotte on Thursday, August 10.

“We approached the NFL and the Houston Texans about moving our game to Wednesday in an effort to minimize the impact on city resources, and out of respect for our friends at Quail Hollow and the PGA,” executive director of stadium operations Scott Paul said. “We thank the NFL and the Texans for their cooperation.”

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