New York Jets vs Carolina Panthers Week 1 Predictions: Against the Spread, Total, and Props
There are a few good storylines here for the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers for two teams who only play each other once every four years. First, Sam Darnold, the third overall pick by the Jets in 2018, was traded to Carolina this offseason for a 2021 sixth-round pick, a 2022 second-round pick, and a 2022 fourth-round pick.
You also have former Jet Robby Anderson, who blossomed into a more well-rounded Wide Reciever with Carolina last year, and Matt Rhule, the Panthers coach, who was on the verge of getting the Jets job in 2019 before ownership stepped in and ended up settling on Adam Gase.
While these teams aren’t “rivals” in the traditional sense of the word, these two teams do have some overlap from the past couple of seasons. Both the Jets and Panthers feature new starting Quarterbacks and look to be teams using 2021 as a building block year.
New York Jets Preview
2020 was a colossal failure in every sense of the word for the Jets. They finished the season 2-14, their worse record since Rich Kotite’s 1-15 campaign in the 1996 season. Moreover, the offense was downright brutal, averaging just 15.2 points per game and 279.9 yards per game.
With Sam Darnold and Adam Gase out the door and Zach Wilson and Robert Saleh, along with Offensive Coordinator, Mike LaFleur in it’s hard to imagine that there will be a repeat performance offensively.
In the NFL Draft, GM Joe Douglas was aggressive, selecting four offensive players in Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter with his first four picks. He also spent money on Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, Tevin Coleman, Tyler Kroft, and Morgan Moses in free agency to help round out his offense this year.
While they aren’t yet close to one of the NFL’s elite offensively, they are setting up their young QB with a much better chance of success than they did with Sam Darnold just a few years ago.
Carolina Panthers Preview
The Carolina Panthers made a bold move by electing to trade for Sam Darnold rather than select a QB eighth overall. Both Justin Fields and Mac Jones were on the board for Carolina, who instead elected to go on the defense with CB Jaycee Horn out of South Carolina.
While everyone is looking to the QB, the most significant impact on the Panthers will be the return of Christian McCaffery. He played just three games in the 2020 season, but the last time he played a full year in 2019, McCaffery finished with 2,392 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns, leading the league in both categories.
The offense will go as he goes, and all signs indicate the McCaffery will return to form during this upcoming 2021 season. For reference, the Panthers finished 24th in team offense without their best offensive weapon last year and Teddy Bridgewater as their starting QB.
New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers Betting Predictions
While the Jets struggled against the spread in 2020, going just 6-10, the Panthers faired much better, going 9-7 ATS. However, I’d be careful looking too much into those 2020 numbers, considering how much turnover there has been on each roster.
When looking at the injury report for the Panthers, they will be missing a key piece to this offensive line. Starting RG John Miller was placed on the COVID-19 list, which means 2019 sixth-rounder Dennis Daly will likely have to take his place.
The right side was supposed to be the strength of this Panthers o-line with Cam Erving and Pat Elflein on the left side. The Panthers LT and LG spots leave a lot to be desired. Erving, starting at LT, carried a 58.0 PFF Grade, while Elflein registered a 48.0 ranking 73rd out of 80 guards.
Even with the loss of Carl Lawson for the season, the Jets’ strength is their defensive line. With Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Sheldon Rankins on the interior, there’s a strong chance there will be a ton of pressure in Sam Darnold’s face.
In three years with the Jets, Darnold struggled when facing the heat, and if that continues in Week 1, the result should remain the same even with an improved supporting cast. Both the Jets and Carolina hit the under 56.2% of the time last season. Therefore, an under and Jets +5 are the most enticing plays from this game.