Carolina Panthers clash lands on must-see games of 2023 list

Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud
Bryce Young and C.J. Stroud / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The Carolina Panthers landed on a must-see games of 2023 list thanks in no small part to what transpired early in the 2023 NFL Draft.

There was endless, exhausting debate about what the Carolina Panthers would do once they traded with the Chicago Bears for their pick of the 2023 quarterback prospects. A decision that eventually led to those in power making Bryce Young their guy.

This was the general belief from the moment Carolina made their surge from No. 1 overall. Young has all the tools needed despite the height concerns, but many analysts initially thought C.J. Stroud could be the choice given the size and his reputation as the best pure passer emerging from the college ranks this year.

As it turned out, Stroud didn't have to wait much longer to hear his name called. Despite some rumors about a slide thanks to some unfair criticism late in the evaluation process, the Houston Texans selected the former Ohio State star at No. 2 overall before making a bombshell trade of their own en route to taking edge rushing phenom Will Anderson Jr. at No. 3.

Young and Stroud have been close friends for years. They came up together as high school prodigies in Southern California and have a deep respect for one another that transcends football.

Carolina Panthers vs. Texans a 'must-see' game of 2023

As fate would have it, Young and Stroud will do battle as rookies when the Panthers take on the Texans. Although this would be a mundane clash in previous years, the added sense of intrigue was enough for Nick Shook from to place the fixture among his top-10 must-see games in 2023.

"Thank you, 2023 NFL Draft, for making this into a must-see event. The Panthers and Texans might not find themselves among the elite Super Bowl contenders this season, but because they each selected their quarterbacks of the future (Bryce Young for Carolina and C.J. Stroud for Houston) with the top two overall picks in April, they're all but guaranteed a large audience when they face each other. The closest they've had to a true showdown came off the field, in the 2021 Heisman Trophy voting. Finally, we'll get our first chance to see who can lead their team to victory over the other."

Nick Shook,

Seeing Young and Stroud go toe-to-toe will be fascinating. When this occurs during the 2023 campaign should also be significant given the need for both to fully adjust to the increased NFL standards if they become Week 1 starters as expected.

It's also worth remembering that the Panthers and Texans are embarking on new regimes, which adds another dimension to the contest. Frank Reich and DeMeco Ryans are looking to get their respective squads out of the wilderness and into legitimate postseason contention at the earliest possibility, so they'll both see this as a winnable game during a season where every triumph is expected to count.

However, all the hype before this one will be on Young and Stroud. If the latter emerges victorious, the section of Panthers fans who wanted those in power to go in a different direction will push their narrative - even if the time for arguments has long gone.

It's time to get behind Young and the new regime. Losing and moaning almost becomes addictive in a weird way, so the positivity surrounding the Panthers is taking some getting used to for many right now.

With the schedule release upcoming next week, business is about to pick up. For Young and Stroud, that means grasping the moment and living up to some extremely high expectations.

There were two right answers atop this draft for Carolina. Seeing both gunslingers locking horns as rookies is only fitting considering how the two will be compared throughout their professional journeys.

Get your popcorn ready.

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