5 toughest matchups for Panthers QB Sam Darnold in 2021

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Sam Darnold /
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Sam Darnold
(Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /

Sam Darnold vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

  • Week 16 (December 26) at home.
  • Week 18 (January 9, 2022) on the road.

Sam Darnold is used to having a Super Bowl champion in his own division. This is something he experienced on the New York Jets in the AFC East, but whether it’s an experience he can put to good use against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is another matter entirely.

The Bucs shocked the world when they went through the playoffs to dethrone the Kansas City Chiefs for Tom Brady’s seventh ring and probably his most satisfying. They managed to keep every single starter on the roster for another crack at glory and it would be a huge shock if Tampa Bay weren’t there or thereabouts in 2021.

Brady got the headlines, which is expected. But the Bucs would not have got their hands on the Vince Lombardi Trophy without an exceptional contribution from their defense.

They are going to give Darnold all he can handle in their two late-season fixtures, which starts with a front seven that is stacked with talent and ends with a secondary who came on leaps and bounds during the previous campaign.

Tampa Bay easily disposed of the Carolina Panthers during the two contests between the NFC South divisional rivals in 2020. The Bucs are easily the team to beat once again due to the strength across their roster and the fact they are the defending champions. So Darnold is going to need to be at his very best to keep his team competitive.