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Key Matchup: Carolina Panthers Interior Offensive line v New York Jets Interior Defensive Line

NFL: Buffalo Bills at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Can you smell that, that beautiful scent of game week!

The Jets are in action on Sunday, taking on Sam Darnold and the Carolina Panthers. Have you heard that this is a revenge game for Darnold? Well, if you haven’t opened your eyes or ears since the schedule was released, you may not have heard.

There are a number of matchups that I’m looking at as key positional battles, and one of the main ones is Carolina’s interior offensive line facing off against the Jets interior defensive line.

For me, this is our greatest strength going up against Carolina’s greatest weakness. You win that battle you start to help your linebackers and your defensive backs, and this is a battle the Jets desperately need to win.

Last season, Caroline’s interior offensive line was disappointing. The unit allowed 36 sacks and the Panthers as a whole ranked 18th in passing and 21st in rushing, outside of Taylor Morton who is one of the best right tackles in football, there isn’t a lot to like when you look at the Panthers unit.

in 2021 they’ll be starting Cam Erving at left tackle after deciding not to re-sign Russell Okung (who’s currently still a free agent). Erving had a host of injuries while with the Cowboys in 2020, and only started 5 games in the end. In fact, according to PFF there are 151 offensive tackles who have played 1,500 or more snaps since 2018, and Cam Erving ranks at number 151.

Inside is a similar story, from left to right the Panthers are set to start Pat Elflein, Matt Paradis and Dennis Daley. John Miller who is the regular RG for Carolina has been placed on the COVID list, which means he won’t be available this weekend. We know all about Pat Elflein, a player who appeared for the Jets last season, and using the same equation above for Erving, Elflein ranked 147th.

Matt Paradis showed his skills in Denver as was part of their Super Bowl winning team, but he hasn’t looked as good or as comfortable since moving to Carolina in 2019.

Daley is more of an unknown, he was a 6th round pick of the Panthers back in the 2019 draft and he was pushed into action as the teams starting left tackle, which is a recipe for disaster. That proved to be the case as Daley gave up 8 sacks and 4 penalties, he was then battling injuries through the 2020 season.

The Jets on the other hand possess a very strong interior defensive line. With Quinnen Williams, Folorunso Fatukasi and Nathan Shephard being joined by free-agent addition Sheldon Rankins and 6th round draft pick Jonathan Marshall.

Williams is set to become one of the premier defensive tackles in football and Folorunso Fatukasi was the 2nd best run defender in the league last year according to PFF.

Sheldon Rankins has struggled with injuries over the last couple of years but he recently said that he feels as healthy as he was in 2018, a season where he recorded 8 sacks and 12 tackles for a loss, if the Jets can get 2018 production out of Rankins, they’re set to have one of the league’s best interior defensive units.

This is a match-up that I’ll be watching closely on Sunday. If we can generate pressure up the middle to make Sam Darnold uncomfortable, then it increases the chances of the Jets walking away with a victory.