Jets vs. Panthers Odds, Pick, Week 1 NFL Predictions: Bet On Sam Darnold To Get Revenge?
John Byrum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Sam Darnold
Jets vs. Panthers Odds
|Jets Odds||+4 (-110)|
|Panthers Odds||-4 (-110)|
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
There is nothing better in Week 1 than a good old fashioned Revenge Game. Ex-Jets quarterback Sam Darnold welcomes his former team to Carolina to battle the Panthers, who are 4-point favorites in Charlotte.
Darnold was ridiculed out of New York after admitting he saw “ghosts” on national television against the Patriots. Will the first-year Panthers signal-caller get his vengeance in his Carolina debut?
New York Jets
The Jets named former San Francisco defensive coordinator Robert Saleh head coach in January, ending the disappointing reign of Adam Gase. Saleh then hired first-time coordinators Mike LaFleur (offense) and Jeff Ulrich (defense). The coaching change mirrored an extensive turnover in talent on both sides of the ball.
The biggest offensive improvement New York will hope to see is on the offensive line after the Jets finished 29th in the league last season, per PFF. New York is strong at left tackle, where Mekhi Becton graded out well as a rookie, and the Jets hope first-round pick Alijah Vera-Tucker can make an impact right away. The team will need to protect rookie quarterback Zach Wilson, who showed a strong preseason connection with new top wideout Corey Davis. New York also added wide receiver Keelan Cole and dynamic rookie Eiljah Moore.
The Jets rushing attack will be a multi-headed monster led by veteran Tevin Coleman and third-year back Ty Johnson. Fourth-round pick Michael Carter brings a 10.81 (98th percentile) Agility Score, making an immediate impact in the passing game. Wilson was a prolific college producer, but never faced the type of pressure at BYU that he will see on the road at Carolina.
Defensively, the Jets suffered a major loss when defensive end Carl Lawson suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in August. New York subsequently traded a 2022 sixth-round pick for Texans’ DE Shaq Lawson to fill the void.
The lack of a pass rush will put more pressure on a young and inexperienced secondary. Per Warren Sharp, Brian Poole was the only Jets cornerback to hold opponents to a negative EPA per target last year, and he is now on the Saints. New York’s two fifth-round cornerbacks (Michael Carter II and Jason Pinnock) and sixth-round pick Brandin Echols have potential, but will face a difficult challenge against the Panthers wideouts.
Sam Darnold should be set up for success in Carolina as he has one of the best collections of skill position players in the NFL at his disposal. He will lead a Carolina offense that has an elite running back in Christian McCaffrey, and three outstanding wide receivers in D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson and rookie Terrace Marshall Jr.
McCaffrey is the best pass-catching running back in the NFL. Prior to last year’s injury, he tallied 303 receptions over his first three seasons. In 2019, McCaffrey registered 119 receptions, 1,005 receiving yards and 19 total touchdowns. He is the ideal safety blanket for a quarterback trying to regain confidence with a new team.
Darnold will rely heavily on his two veteran wideouts. Moore enters his fourth season on the verge of a breakout. His speed has served as the basis for consecutive seasons of 1,500-plus air yards. Moore is a PPR monster, facing a Jets secondary that allowed the sixth-most receptions (227) to opposing wide receivers. Anderson has a strong connection with Darnold from their days in New York. He enjoyed a career season in 2020, setting personal highs in targets (136), receptions (95) and receiving yards (1,096).
The weakest unit for the Panthers is their offensive line, which ranks just 30th, per PFF. However, this unit did rank as the 10th-best in pass blocking efficiency, and the Jets will struggle to generate consistent pressure without Carl Lawson.
Carolina brings a strong front seven on defense. Brian Burns, the 2019 first-round pick from Florida State, has tallied 16.5 sacks over his first two NFL season. Defensive tackle Derrick Brown, Carolina’s first-round pick from 2020, should blossom into a star this season. The Panthers also brought in former Cardinals defensive end Haasan Reddick, who registered 12.5 sacks last year.
The Panthers secondary should also be much improved with the addition of first-round pick CB Jaycee Horn.
Carolina will consistently pressure Wilson all game, likely forcing the rookie into bad decisions.
There is still public hesitancy to back a Darnold-led offense after his, “I’m seeing ghosts” statement on national television last season. Any other quarterback getting away from former head coach Adam Gase and inheriting a treasure chest of offensive weapons would have higher expectations.
Carolina’s offense presents a ton of challenges for a Jets defense that is still young, especially in the secondary. McCaffrey’s pass-catching ability and the trio of explosive wideouts should provide Darnold with safe and comfortable targets in the Panthers’ home opener.
The Jets will certainly be improved under Saleh, but the Panthers front seven will prove too disruptive to the New York offense. I’m laying the points with the Panthers at home, and buying the “Revenge Game” narrative with Darnold. I would play this up to -5.
Pick: Panthers -4 (+100) at PointsBet