The 2021 season is upon us and we’ll finally have the chance to see all the fresh faces in their new places on September 12. A number of those names will be featured in the Carolina Panthers-New York Jets showdown, including new starting quarterbacks on each side.
Both the Panthers and Jets consider themselves on the upswing. Matt Rhule heads into his second season as head coach with offensive coordinator Joe Brady and defensive coordinator Phil Snow by his side. And while not much has been said about the Panthers throughout the national media, there is reason to be optimistic about their outlook.
The Jets, meanwhile, cleaned house after a disastrous 2020 and seem as if they were able to get a lot of the right people into the fold. They’re at square one, but they can only go up from where 2020 concluded.
It’s far from the weekend’s marquee matchup, but there will still be plenty to see when these teams line up across from one another. The Panthers opened as 3.5-point favorites, but have been bet up to -4.5 on FanDuel Sportsbook. The O/U has remained unchanged at 43.5.
Panthers Primed For Take-Off?
It’s no surprise that the Panthers have been slept on to this point. After all, they finished 5-11 in 2020, used their No. 1 pick on a cornerback, and traded for former New York Jet Sam Darnold to serve as their quarterback. Their offseason may have lacked a true landscape-altering acquisition, but that won’t preclude them from making more noise than anticipated.
The Panthers are far from perfect — their offensive line remains a question mark and Darnold still needs to establish that he’s a reliable NFL signal-caller. However, he’s surrounded by the best coaching and skill-position talent of his career. A healthy Christian McCaffrey heads a “complete offense” that features a wide receiver trio in DJ Moore, Robby Anderson, and Terrace Marshall Jr. that does not receive the attention it deserves.
The key for Carolina will be closing out close games. Of their 11 losses, eight were of the one-score variety. And of those eight, three were by a field goal or less.
New Blood At One Jets Drive
The Jets head into the season with a new head coach and coaching staff, a rookie quarterback, and a relatively new general manager still looking to make a positive mark on the organization. The bar set by Adam Gase and Co. could not have been much lower, but there is genuine optimism that the new regime can right the ship.
No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson has impressed in his first training camp, but he’s still a rookie who will be taking his first regular-season snaps. Don’t overlook the fact that head coach Robert Saleh and offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur will be making their regular-season debuts as well.
Leave The Total, Lay The Points
The Panthers are heading into the 2021 season with continuity on both sides of the ball, a luxury absent on the Jets sideline. They complement a dynamic offense with a young and talented defense that should demonstrate some growth. The defensive equation will be an issue for the Jets in the wake of some key injuries, however, so expect the Panthers to find a groove offensively and put some points on the board.
While 43.5 is a modest total, it may be asking a lot of the Jets offense to start clicking from the get-go in a matchup that is tougher than many will realize.
Play: Panthers -4.5