Listen Live
Detroit Lions v Carolina Panthers

Source: Jared C. Tilton / Getty

The 2023 NFL Season gets underway tonight, and by the end of Monday night, a handful of teams will know their fate, in terms of being Super Bowl contenders, and playoff teams. In the Super Bowl era, the teams that have the coveted Lombardi Trophy are 46-10-1 in season openers, Since 2022, 334 teams have won their season openers, and 176 of them went on to make the postseason. On the flipside, only 82 teams that lost their season opener, made it to the postseason, a stark difference between the two results.

So does this make Sunday’s opener a must-win for the Panthers? In theory, there isn’t a “must-win” in Week 1, but the math may suggest otherwise. When you consider that this is a road, division game, it does make it easier to see Carolina emerging as the winners of the NFC South, if they beat the Falcons on Sunday as opposed to coming short. Additionally, when you look at the NFC South, arguably the worst division in the NFC, and maybe in all of football, an 0-1 start isn’t something they can’t overcome. When you look back to just last season, Carolina started the season 1-5, yet found themselves playing in a de facto NFC South title game at Tampa Bay in January.

Luckily for the Panthers, they aren’t being pressured into a winning season, given that there is a new coaching staff in town, and a rookie QB is set to start all 17 games. But from the fans perspective, the sense of urgency to get Brian Burns paid, is in large part to have him on the field against their division rival on Sunday, in a game that most certainly won’t feel like a playoff game, but as history has told us, will play a factor in the playoff picture in 2023.