4 keys to victory for the Carolina Panthers at Texans in Week 3

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Robby Anderson /

Carolina Panthers should take advantage of a weak outside defense

For the second time in the first three weeks of the 2021 season, the Carolina Panthers will be going up against a passing defense that ranked in the bottom quarter in 2020.

While the Panthers weren’t necessarily able to capitalize on that vs. the Jets in Week 1, a superb performance against a much better Saints team has optimism through the roof. Especially where Sam Darnold is concerned.

However, the Panthers’ wide receiver room, which was supposed to be a true strength that would outplay just about anyone, has underperformed in the early going. Robby Anderson is the largest offender in this category after signing a lucrative multi-year extension in the offseason.

With the exception of a long touchdown on a beautiful route against the Jets, Anderson has almost been an afterthought in the offense this season, rarely having his name called. Only having four receptions so far in 2021 for a little more than 100 yards and one touchdown.

This Texans game will be an interesting one to watch from his perspective. There should be opportunities to get open against a secondary manned by players who never lived up to potential or simply didn’t have much hype to begin with.

In all likelihood, Anderson will be lined up against Vernon Hargreaves III for most of the game.

Hargreaves has never lived up to the price of a first-round pick since entering the league with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016. The small corner has only played two full seasons in his career and didn’t necessarily show anything during those opportunities.

Anderson will have to show something against this type of coverage or questions about his price tag will begin to swirl just a few short weeks after that big payday.

On the other side will be Terrance Mitchell, a seventh-round pick of the Dallas Cowboys back in 2014, the player has overperformed his selection but not to the extent you would like for a starting corner in the NFL.

With that said, however, this tandem shut down what should be an explosive Browns offense in Week 2 so it won’t exactly be a cakewalk. Either way, Carolina’s wideouts need to start showing something against inferior coverage or there could be some trade rumors in the near future.