What to expect from Panthers QB Sam Darnold’s Week 18 start vs. Saints

Although Sam Darnold’s performance in the Carolina Panthers’ Week 17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers came with mixed results, it’s hard to say he disappointed. Can you really ask for more than a career-high 341 passing yards and three touchdowns?

This week, for the regular-season finale, he gets a hot New Orleans Saints defense—one that has held their last two opponents to 10 points apiece. They essentially shut down both Cleveland’s Deshaun Watson and Philadelphia’s Gardner Minshew—so Darnold will, once again, need to bring his best in what may be a prove-it performance heading into an uncertain offseason.

While interim head coach Steve Wilks and company will have winning on their mind first and foremost, it’s probably not a stretch to say they are going to open things up for Darnold. Allowing the fifth-year passer to air it out a bit more will give the team a deeper look at what they may have moving forward.

Hopefully, his offensive line can hold up against what’s been a stout New Orleans front—which has been intent on collapsing pockets with eight sacks in those last two games. And if they can, Darnold should be able to maximize skill set and show them what he’s got.

Stat projection: 22-of-38, 290 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception

Related

Panthers interim HC Steve Wilks to players: We care about you beyond football

Did Panthers' chances of landing Bryce Young or C.J. Stroud just decrease?

List

4 'offensive gurus' who could be the next Panthers HC

Story originally appeared on Panthers Wire