3 reasons the Carolina Panthers can beat the Saints in Week 2

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /

Carolina Panthers RB Christian McCaffrey is still producing at his 2019 level

After a Week 1 performance in which he piled up 187 total yards, it’s safe to say that Christian McCaffrey is back to his All-Pro form. The fifth-year back missed most of 2020 with injury, but hasn’t seemed to miss a beat, despite not playing in the preseason last month.

He was a huge contributor in the Carolina Panthers win over the New York Jets. Having him on the field should continue making the team’s offense a force to be reckoned with.

Mike Davis was solid in relief last season, but having McCaffrey back in the fold gives Sam Darnold a weapon that last year’s starter, Teddy Bridgewater, never had.

That’s not to make excuses for Bridgewater, but is a point made simply to note the extra comfort his presence gives to Darnold in the offense.

This was evident early on in the Jets game with McCaffrey getting the ball on the first three plays from scrimmage – four if you count one called back for a penalty – and leading the team in receiving targets with nine.

Darnold has never had a back like McCaffrey who truly acted as his quarterback’s security blanket, so even after just one game that connection seems to be paying dividends.

As important and McCaffrey was in the passing game though, it’s important to not overlook his production on the ground either. He finished the day with 98 yards on 21 carries, including the game-sealing first down with just over a minute to play.

The New Orleans Saints were stout against the run defensively against the Green Bay Packers, surrendering just 2.9 yards per rush. But the Panthers will need McCaffrey to produce in order to win on Sunday.

If he can keep the chains moving for Carolina, then look for the offense to open up for the rest of the team’s playmakers. D.J. Moore has seemingly played his best football against New Orleans, so if he and McCaffrey can get hot, then it could be quite the successful day for the home team.