The Carolina Panthers will host their division rivals in that of the New Orleans Saints in Week 2 of the 2021 NFL season. Both teams are coming off impressive Week 1 wins with their new starting quarterbacks playing extremely well.
For New Orleans, that included Jameis Winston throwing five touchdowns in a blowout win over Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Meanwhile, former New York Jets first-round pick Sam Darnold exacted revenge against the team he suited up for the past three seasons. Below, we preview this Panthers vs Saints matchup.
Panthers vs Saints: What you need to know
- Carolina hosts the Saints at Bank of America Stadium on Sunday, September 19 at 1:00 PM EST on FOX.
- Sportsnaut says the Carolina Panthers will beat the New Orleans Saints, 31-27.
- Odds: The Saints are 3.5-point favorites with the over/under set at 44.0.
Sam Darnold vs Jameis Winston
Could it be that Darnold was more of a product of the mess with the New York Jets than anything else? If his Week 1 performance against New York was any indication, that might very well be the case. Darnold completed 24-of-35 passes for 279 yards with a touchdown and zero interceptions in the 19-14 win.
As for Winston, the former Tampa Bay Buccaneers No. 1 overall pick made his first start since the 2019 season. Shockingly, he vastly outplayed the aforementioned Aaron Rodgers in a blowout 38-3 win.
- Sam Darnold looks to continue ascension: Darnold threw for more than 279 yards just six times in his 38 starts as a member of the Jets. He also boasted a quarterback rating in the triple-digits just eight times. In just his first start with Carolina, the former USC standout accomplished both feats. That has to say something about his progression as a quarterback.
- A mistake-free Jameis Winston: Winston, 27, wasn’t asked to do a whole lot in last week’s win over Green Bay. Despite tossing five touchdowns, he only attempted 20 passes. To put that into perspective, Winston threw less than 20 passes in just four of his 70 starts with Tampa Bay. This is what New Orleans will need to continue doing if it wants Winston to avoid the mistakes that have defined his career up to this point.
Advantage: Carolina Panthers
D.J. Moore vs Marshon Lattimore
Just recently signed to a massive extension, Lattimore is the gel that holds New Orleans’ elite defense together. He’s been seen as a true shutdown guy more often than not throughout his career.
On the other side, the 24-year-old Moore is coming off two consecutive 1,000-yard seasons for the Panthers. He also caught 6-of-8 targets in Week 1’s win over the Jets.
- Lattimore island: While this former Ohio State product has been darn good throughout his career, he has been known to give up the big play. According to Pro Football Focus, Lattimore yielded five catches of 80-plus yards a season ago. Talk about boom or bust.
- More from Panthers passing game: Despite his high-end numbers, Moore caught a mere 61% of his targets over the past two seasons. That included 56% mark a season ago. Carolina needs more consistency from its No. 1 receiver. Perhaps, that comes against Lattimore on Sunday.
Advantage: Carolina Panthers
Alvin Kamara vs Jeremy Chinn
This is going to be one heck of a matchup to watch. Kamara is too shifty for the likes of linebackers Shaq Thompson and Jermaine Carter.
That’s going to force one-on-one matchups against a player in Chinn who is coming off a tremendous rookie season.
- Alvin’s targets: Surprisingly, Kamara caught just three passes for eight yards last week against the Packers. That came after the star back averaged north of 80 receptions in his first four NFL seasons. In order for New Orleans to make up for the absence of Michael Thomas, Kamara will need to get more involved in the passing game.
- Elite Chinn: Last season saw this former second-round pick from Southern Illinois record five passes defended, two forced fumbles and two touchdowns en route to yielding a sub 60 passer rating when targeted. If Carolina is going to come out on top here, he must contain Kamara in the passing game. It’s that simple.
Advantage: New Orleans Saints
Bottom line: This Panthers vs Saints game is going to be telling for both teams. Carolina fancies itself as a legit playoff contender while New Orleans is coming off a blowout win over the Packers. In what will be a close game, we’re going with the home team.
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Author: Vincent Frank