In anticipation of the official schedule release date in mid-April, theRams.com will be taking an early look at each of the club's opponents for next season.
The Rams will hit the road to take on the Panthers next season as a part of their 2019 tour of the NFC South. The matchup will mark just the second time the two clubs have met since the Rams have called Los Angeles home and the first in head coach Sean McVay's tenure.
Here's an early look at the Panthers:
For the second-straight season the Panthers finished second to the Saints in the NFC South standings. Head coach Ron Rivera's club finished 7-9 and short of a spot in the postseason for just the second time in six seasons.
The 2018 Panthers won six of their first eight last season, before dropping seven-consecutive games — drastically hurting their playoff chances.
The Panthers lead the all-time series against the Rams 13-8 and have won six out of the last seven matchups. The Panthers picked up a win against the Rams in their debut season back in Los Angeles in 2016, holding running back Todd Gurley to just 12 carries for 48 yards.
The Panthers made a few moves to sturdy their offense line to protect quarterback Cam Newton and his surgically-repaired shoulder heading into year nine. The line will return offensive tackle Daryl Williams, who missed time in 2018 to a knee injury.
The dinged-up Panthers offensive line also took a blow with veteran center Ryan Kalil's decision to retire after five Pro Bowl seasons. As Kalil rode into the sunset, Carolina signed former Broncos center Matt Paradis. Paradis is recovering from a season-ending fractured fibula ahead of year one with Newton.
On defense, the Panthers did not return veteran linebacker Thomas Davis and defensive end Julius Peppers hung up the cleats after 17 professional seasons, prompting the signing of veteran defensive end Bruce Irvin, who bounced between the Raiders and Falcons in 2018.
Rivera's run with the Panthers will continue into year nine after eight seasons finished with an inconsistent win column. The Panthers are 71-56-1 under Rivera and are yet to post back-to-back seasons with at least 10 wins. Rivera has, however, has led his club to four NFL postseasons, including a run to Super Bowl 50 in 2015.
What to Watch For
The Rams and Panthers will go head-to-head with the two of the league's top running backs in 2019. Running backs Todd Gurley and Christian McCaffrey finished No. 3 and No. 6 in rushing yards in 2018, respectively. Gurley averaged 4.9 yards per carry, nearly matching McCaffery's five-yard average.
Additionally, the Rams will be in search of their first win in Carolina in nearly two decades. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner last led the Rams to victory on the road against the Panthers in 2001.