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
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is back

Perhaps the most exciting “addition” to the Carolina Panthers’ roster in 2021 isn’t technically a new addition at all, rather it is the return of an extremely valuable and versatile weapon.

That weapon comes in the form of a 5-foot-11, 205-pound running back named Christian McCaffrey.

After missing all but three games in 2020, he is set for a healthy return this season, which should make life much easier for Sam Darnold and the rest of the offense.

Mike Davis filled in admirably in McCaffrey’s absence last year, but you can’t just replace that type of production.

McCaffrey became just the third player in NFL history to have a season with 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in 2019, and had similar stats in the three games he was active last year.

His return gives Darnold a benefit that Teddy Bridgewater never fully got to experience, which should theoretically help in his transition to the Panthers’ offense.

Darnold certainly has the best supporting cast of his young career. Something New York failed to surround him with during his first three seasons.

Regardless of who Darnold and the Panthers are playing though, having McCaffrey on the field makes them an immediate force to be reckoned with. To back that up, you don’t have to look any further than the matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs last year.

He came up with big play after big play, totaling 151 yards and two scores as Carolina came within a missed field goal away from knocking off the then-defending Super Bowl champions.

If the All-Pro can come anywhere close to replicating his 2019 numbers then the Panthers should steamroll the Jets and contend for a playoff spot in the NFC.

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Earlier this week head coach Matt Rhule made it clear that he wanted McCaffrey involved early and often against New York, so don’t be surprised if the Panthers’ best player goes off in Week 1.