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Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Things did not go to plan for the Carolina Panthers in their season opener with rookie quarterback Bryce Young. They could not get the offense going at any stage, as Young held on to the ball for long periods, recording the fourth-longest time to throw of any QB during Week 1, and produced double the number of throwaways of any other QB, a statistic he still leads despite playing one fewer game than almost all of the other starters.
Defensively speaking, it will be a different look this week against the Saints, whose interior offensive line got mauled by the Atlanta Falcons in the opener, giving up a 45.2% pressure rate — the fourth-worst mark in the league — but the Saints aren't quite strong inside, so there may hope that BYoung has a little bit more room to breath without the pocket collapsing on top of him. However, the Saints utilize stunts at one of the highest rates in the league, which the Panthers particularly struggled against in pass protection against the Falcons.
The big positive for Young is the way the Saints play the back end. They will play single-high safety concepts more than almost any other team in the league, as they played straight-up man coverage out of single-high at the league-high rate in Week 1. I do not know if the Panthers have the wide receiver group to take advantage of the one-on-one matchups — especially on the left side of the field, which will be manned by star Saints corner Marshon Lattimore — but D.J. Chark is back to help them stretch the field, which could help create some opportunities underneath for guys on the inside. Unfortunately, Adam Thielen seems to have regressed a lot lately while Laviska Shenault does not get on the field too much. Both of Shenault's targets last week were behind the line of scrimmage. Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall will likely rotate time in as well.
Hayden Hurst over 3.5 receptions (+136 FanDuel)
Playing against man coverage leads to targeting the best matchup, so there will be times when that is Jonathan Mingo or D.J. Chark when they are lined up at RWR against Paulson Adebo. Young may look to take opportunities deep in those favorable situations, but Hurst provided his QB with a consistent big body to aim at in Week 1, and he is going to be consistently the best matchup for his QB in Week 2 given the real lack of strength in this receiving group. The middle-of-the-field throws got home against the Falcons when no one on the outside was able to generate anything meaningful and we can expect more of the same here.