The Carolina Panthers and New York Jets will begin their 2021 seasons with a head-to-head matchup against one another at Bank of America Stadium. This game has some added spice to it, specifically at the quarterback positions. For New York, they are beginning a new era under center as they'll start No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson right out of the shoot. What makes this even more interesting for the Jets is that Wilson will face the quarterback he replaced in Sam Darnold, who was traded to Carolina earlier this offseason.
While that storyline will certainly be worth monitoring over the course of this matchup, in this space, we're going to focus on all the gambling aspects of this contest. Below, you'll find deep dives into all the betting aspects of Sunday's opener, including the spread, total and a handful of player props.
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How to watch
The Panthers originally opened as 3.5-point favorites back in May but largely stood as 4.5-point favorites throughout the summer. This week, the line jumped as high as Carolina -5.5 but has since settled back down to Carolina -4.
The pick: Panthers -4. Even as this line has fluctuated, I'd still lean towards Carolina as this number should probably sit somewhere around six. The Jets are coming into this game after a 2-14 regular season a year ago and will be sporting a first-year head coach along with a rookie quarterback. Not only that, but New York's pass-catching unit is a little dinged up with Jamison Crowder (COVID) already ruled out and Keelan Cole dealing with a knee injury. Meanwhile, you have a Panthers offense that boasts an extremely motivated Darnold, who'll have weapons like Christian McCaffrey, Robby Anderson, and D.J. Moore at his disposal. Even if you don't want to lay the points, this should be a solid moneyline look at -210.
Key trend: Jets are 1-8 ATS in their last nine games in September
The Under may be a popular play here. For the Jets, the Under is 5-2 in their last seven road games while the Under is also 5-2 in Carolina's previous seven home contests. Questions surrounding how quickly the Jets offense can get rolling are likely the cause for folks predicting a possible lower-scoring affair.
Player props to consider
Zach Wilson rushing yards: Over 19.5 (-115) - Wilson showed us in college that he has the ability to run, and I expect he'll be on the move a bit to avoid the Panthers pass rush.
Sam Darnold passing touchdowns: Over 1.5 (-105) - Darnold had just nine touchdowns for the Jets in 12 games last year, so a multi-touchdown game would be impressive. That said, he's on a new team with a highly skilled cast around him and has an offensive coordinator in Joe Brady who should be able to give him a number of scoring opportunities.
Christian McCaffrey receiving yards: Over 47.5 (-120) - Last year was essentially a lost season for McCaffrey since he played in just three games. If he returns to his 2019 form now that he's healthy, this should cash, as he hit the Over on this total in 10 of his 16 games played that year. The Panthers have also already noted that McCaffrey will have no restrictions heading into this matchup.