3 reasons the Carolina Panthers will beat the NY Jets in Week 1

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports) Brian Burns /

Carolina Panthers revamped defense should give Zach Wilson trouble

Coming into last season the defense was a huge question mark for the Carolina Panthers. Coming into 2021 though it may actually be a strength of this team – especially the front seven.

Derrick Brown flashed elite potential inside toward the end of last season, Brian Burns took a major leap forward, and the signings of DaQuan Jones and Haason Reddick should only bolster the defensive line and linebacking corps.

The emergence of Jermaine Carter and Jeremy Chinn has also been key in the defense’s development, as has the growth of Donte Jackson and the drafting of Jaycee Horn this spring. With all that being said, it’s not crazy to think that Carolina’s defense could be a top-10 unit in the NFL this year.

Because of that potential, it could be a long day for rookie Jets quarterback Zach Wilson.

That’s not a knock on Wilson at all – he’s a phenomenal athlete and has an incredible arm – but for a rookie quarterback making his first NFL start, facing a fast, athletic defense could be a recipe for disaster.

The Panthers’ pass-rush could also prove to be a problem for the Jets’ offense.

Reddick and Burns have created a public competition to see who can record more sacks this season, so they should have plenty of motivation to get after the quarterback. Second-year player Yetur Gross-Matos also has a chance to emerge as a serious pass-rusher after an injury-plagued rookie year.

This is not the Adam Gase Jets anymore.

However, they remain in the early stages of a rebuild that cannot be fixed overnight.

If the Panthers’ defense can gel the way Matt Rhule and Phil Snow hope, then Carolina should have no problem in defeating what is clearly an inferior opponent.