The NY Jets are set to kick off their 2021 season in less than four months' time. And they will do so against the Carolina Panthers, setting the scene for what should be an emotional afternoon.
The NFL released the full slate of Week 1 games early on Wednesday morning ahead of the official release later in the night. So far, only one Jets game has been officially announced.
But it's the one perhaps everyone has been looking forward to.
The Jets will open the season on the road against the Panthers leading the way for a myriad of storylines to follow. None more appealing than the battle at the quarterback position.
The NY Jets will play Sam Darnold for the first time
Following three disappointing seasons in green and white, the Jets made the decision to move on from Sam Darnold last month. And in doing so, they selected his replacement, Zach Wilson, in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now both Wilson and Darnold will make their debuts with their respective teams — against each other. You couldn't tell a better story.
Wilson heroically trotting on to the field to make his first NFL appearance. Darnold hosting his former team — the team that essentially worked to destroy his career — in his new home stadium.
The former will be looking to make a strong first impression while the latter will be out to prove his old organization wrong.
It's like going on a first date but your ex is sitting at the table next to you. A disaster waiting to happen — but it sure makes for good TV.
Then there are the subplots.
Not only will this be Darnold's first game against his former team, but the same is also true for Robby Anderson. After four years in New York, the Jets low-balled Anderson in the 2020 offseason and he instead signed on with the Panthers for a cheap two-years, $20 million.
He went on to have a career year topping 1,000 yards for the first time. Anderson, like Darnold, will be looking to prove his former team wrong. Or rather, he will look to continue proving his former team wrong.
Of course, there's also the narrative surrounding Panthers head coach Matt Rhule who was nearly hired as the Jets' head coach in the 2019 offseason before the deal fell apart. Rhule, like so many others, will set out to show the Jets what they missed out on.
It is the ultimate revenge game.
Could this game be an absolute disaster? Could it blow up in the Jets' faces? Most definitely. And the cynics out there will insist that possibility is more of a probability.
But this is what Week 1 is all about. The storylines, the narratives, the stakes. This is must-watch TV.
The NFL got it right with this one.