The Carolina Panthers joined the NFL officially in 1995, and since the NFC club was established, it has developed several rivalries among other teams. Most notably, franchises Carolina faces twice a year in the same division.
Besides the Panthers’ NFC South opponents, though, the Charlotte-based franchise still harbors a relationship with two other teams from the West Coast.
Here are five of the Panthers’ biggest rivals.
5. Arizona Cardinals
The Arizona Cardinals and Panthers are a tale of two very different franchises, with Carolina aged 25 years young and the Cardinals tracing back their NFL roots to Chicago and St. Louis before relocating a third time in the southwest. The two franchises have faced off 14 times in regular season matchups, with the Panthers owning a 10-4 record. That goes along with three playoff bouts (tied for Carolina’s most frequent postseason opponent)—all occurring in the span of seven years, including twice in back-to-back playoffs in 2015-16.
In Jan. 2009, the Cardinals crushed Jake Delhomme and the Panthers in the divisional round en route to a Super Bowl XLIII loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then, the Panthers beat the Cards in the wild card round in 2014 and the NFC Championship Game in 2015 in their Super Bowl 50 defeat to the Denver Broncos.
These two teams always seem to face each other in the playoffs.
4. Seattle Seahawks
Another frequent postseason matchup, along with a west coast team, is the Seattle Seahawks, who have faced Carolina three times in the playoffs, too.
Unlike the Cardinals, however, the Seahawks have both winning records in regular season matchups (8-3) and playoff tilts (2-1) against the Panthers. The two teams first met in the 2005 NFC title game. After two consecutive upsets for Carolina, the east coast club fell by 20 points to Seattle, who in turn lost in Super Bowl XL to the Steelers.
The Panthers lost again to the Seahawks in 2014, this time in the divisional round, with Seattle once more going to the Super Bowl and losing. The next year, Carolina finally took revenge with a touchdown margin of victory in the second round against Seattle before losing in the Super Bowl.
They don’t get to play twice a year, but both the Seahawks and Cardinals have had major postseason battles with powerful implications against the Panthers.
3. New Orleans Saints
Heading into the NFC South, it’s all neck and neck, but the New Orleans Saints are the third-biggest division rival of the Panthers. Although competition between the two have only heated up in recent years.
The Panthers, and in this case likewise the Saints, have a 25-25 regular-season record against the Bayou club, although they have lost three out of the last four meetings to New Orleans. They two clubs met once in the postseason, a five-point wild card round victory for the Saints in 2017.
The Saints and Panthers have a ton of history, though, mauling each other twice a year and jockeying for the automatic playoff spot by winning the division. Recently, former Saints backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater signed a massive deal to start in Carolina this offseason.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Panthers joined the NFC South in 2002, then having to start a rivalry with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers due to twice yearly head-to-head contests. Near the beginning of the millennium, the two teams were both on the rise. In the first eight years of the division’s existence, five titles were split between these two teams, including a Super Bowl XXXVII victory by the Bucs in 2002. The next year, the Panthers lost in the Super Bowl after claiming the division title.
In 37 regular-season matchups, the Panthers are 24-15 against the Buccaneers, splitting their pair of games in 2019.
In 2005, Tampa Bay won the division while Carolina finished with the same record. Suffice to say, the Bucs have a target on their backs with rival Panthers watching them.
1. Atlanta Falcons
The No. 1 rival for the Panthers might just have to be the Falcons, who are a drive south on I-85 for Carolina fans. And fans of both teams travel to and fro during the twice yearly matchups.
The Panthers are 18-32 lifetime against the Falcons, both of whom joined the NFC South after moving at the same time from the NFC West division. Since the time of the creation of the NFC South, the Falcons have come away with just four division titles and the Panthers own five. In 2008, the Panthers won the division with a 12-4 record while the Falcons posted an 11-5 record (Atlanta would lose in the wild card round and Carolina lost to the Falcons’ better, the Cardinals).
In 2015, during the Panthers’ 15-1 season and Super Bowl 50 loss, the Falcons were Carolina’s sole regular-season blemish away from a perfect record before the playoffs. Atlanta missed the postseason that year, though, with an 8-8 record.
Both the Panthers and Falcons have made two Super Bowls a piece since the 1998 season, and both have lost once each to the Broncos and New England Patriots.