4 key storylines to watch during Carolina Panthers vs. the Saints in Week 2

(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Derrick Brown /

Carolina Panthers fortunes in the trenches

As is the case with most divisional battles, what occurs in the trenches will ultimately determine the outcome. The Carolina Panthers have to win in these areas of the field, with their prospects on one side of the football appearing far different to the other.

Carolina’s defensive line made an outstanding impression against the New York Jets, wreaking havoc from start to finish and causing rookie quarterback Zach Wilson untold problems.

Things will be tougher this weekend against a New Orleans protection, although Sean Payton won’t have the services of starting center Erik McCoy once again. This is something the Panthers might be able to take advantage of with Derrick Brown and DaQuan Jones if their Week 1 contributions were any indication.

That’s not forgetting the supreme forces on the edge Carolina has at its disposal.

It’s on the offensive side of things that pose the most concern.

New Orleans will fancy their chance against the Panthers’ offensive line even without Marcus Davenport. If quarterback Sam Darnold doesn’t get enough time in the pocket, some problems could emerge as a result and that won’t be good.

Doing the right things in the trenches is key for the Panthers. Whether they can dig deep and produce the goods is another matter entirely.