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Jets vs. Panthers 2021 Predictions: Darnold to raise a smile

Sam Darnold spent three years wearing a Jets jersey but he faces them on Sunday
Sam Darnold spent three years wearing a Jets jersey but he faces them on Sunday
By Neil Monnery

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Sam Darnold takes on the team who gave up on him in his first start in Carolina. Neil Monnery likes the narrative but thinks it might be a better game than expected...

Sometimes the fixture computer spits out a Week 1 encounter and you just wonder if it has a sense of humor. The Jets traveling down to Carolina to take on the Panthers is certainly very much one of those occasions.

For New York, they will be led by rookie QB Zach Wilson who was the #2 overall pick in the NFL Draft earlier in the year. The 22 year-old was a fast riser after the season and vowed scouts at his Pro Day which saw him leapfrog several other QB prospects to be the clear choice for the Jets. He has a big arm but the recent history of early first-round QB prospects going to the franchise is shall we say, not great.

Case in point the man who will start for Carolina at the position on Sunday, Sam Darnold. In three years in New York, the former USC Trojan never seemed to fully grab hold of the position and last year, he had more interceptions to touchdowns thrown. That just isn’t getting it done. What this change of scenery has done for Darnold however is put himself somewhere with a far better level of skill players around him.

When he’s under Center, he can look to his side and see the most dynamic playmaker in the NFL alongside him. Christian McCaffrey is just a fantastic all-around football player and his return to full health will be key to help Darnold settle in and to give his team a chance of having a successful season. Robby Anderson and DJ Moore are both better receivers than Darnold had at his disposal in New York as well.

Zach Wilson may well be the present and the future for the Jets but he needs an awful lot of help around him and at this juncture, it is hard to see where that help is coming from.

Spread:

Looking at the line at first glance and Carolina-5.5 feels about right. I don’t think an awful lot of Sam Darnold but I do love what he has around him. Zach Wilson can turn around the Jets but it is going to take time. I wouldn’t bet this line but if you made me, I’d take the Panthers -5.5.

Straight-up:

I think Carolina win the game but -225 isn’t a good enough price.

Over/Under Points Totals:

This is the market I’d play in this matchup. 44.5pts seems low to me and I think this could be a surprisingly open game. I’ll take the over.

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