Jets vs. Panthers NFL Week 1 Picks and Expert Insights

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James Morgan #4 of the New York Jets throws a pass during. Dustin Satloff/Getty Images/AFP

The Carolina Panthers and New York Jets don’t have much history between them, but the storylines will be rich and deep for this interconference season opener between two teams coming off losing records. The Jets will be debuting a rookie quarterback and coach, while their former QB1, Sam Darnold, will be making his Panthers debut against his old team. Let’s see the NFL odds for this matchup.         

New York Jets vs. Carolina Panthers 

Sunday, September 12, 2021 – 01:00 PM EDT at Bank of America Stadium

The Carolina Panthers and New York Jets don’t have much history between them. The teams play in separate conferences and only meet on rare occasions. There will be plenty of rich, deep storylines in this interconference opener between a pair of teams coming back from losing records in 2020, however.

The Jets will be debuting their new rookie quarterback—No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson—and rookie head coach—former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh.

The Panthers will be celebrating the return of All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey, who injuries held to a handful of games in 2020, and unveiling the man they hope is their quarterback of the future, who just happens to be the Jets’ quarterback of the past.      

New Look Jets

The Jets went with a much-needed reboot after a two-win 2020 season. New coach Robert Saleh has been busy trying to transform the culture around the team preaching “all gas, no brake” as the team strives to improve.

He seems to have found the quarterback that will lead the team back. Second overall pick Zach Wilson echoes Saleh’s aggressive approach, saying, “You’ve got to attack, every single day.”

Wilson was the darling of the rookie quarterbacks during the preseason, outplaying even No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence. He finished the exhibition season 15-of-20 passing with 191 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.  

The Jets also added veterans Corey Davis and RB Tevin Coleman and drafted Elijah Moore and running back Michael Carter to give Wilson weapons. They also upgraded the protection with vet Alijah Vera-Tucker.

The defense will also look very different from last year, although Saleh went with a youth movement, bringing in a large number of rookies, instead of plugging holes with veteran pickups.

Welcome, Welcome Back

The Panthers will get back running back Christian McCaffrey, who was among the best in the league two years ago and a fantasy football draft darling. He was limited to three games last year, dealing with shoulder, ankle, and thigh problems. The team held him out of all three preseason games, so Sunday will be his first carry—and catch—in close to a year.

McCaffrey will be just one of the options new quarterback Sam Darnold will have. Acquired from the Jets in a trade, Darnold will make his Panthers debut against his old team. Although, as receiver Robby Anderson, who went from the Jets to Panthers a year earlier, said, “It’s not my old group. They have two, maybe three guys left I played with.”

Darnold was held out of one preseason game and played just a drive in another. In his only extensive time, he looked good, throwing two touchdowns against Pittsburgh, but the problem that plagued him in New York continued to be an issue. His woeful protection from the Jets line led him to worry about the pass rush and get “happy feet.” In one game against New England, he famously came to the sidelines and declared, “I see ghosts.”

Just over a week before the opener, it sounds like the ghosts are still there. “I’m trying to keep calm in the pocket,” he said.  

Not helping matters, the Panthers placed expected starting right guard John Miller on the COVID list. He’ll miss Sunday’s game, replaced in the lineup by Dennis Daley, of whom coach Matt Rhule said, “He’s just had some bumps along the way.”

The Pick

The trendy football pick is to go with the Panthers, who will be getting a big boost from McCaffrey’s return. Carolina will only go as far as Darnold takes them, however, and there are questions about his mental outlook, especially considering the fact that he’s still behind a shaky line.

A straight-up Jets win seems highly possible, and the points just make it all the more tempting.

NFL Pick: Jets (+5.5) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.