New York Jets at Carolina Panthers Quick Preview
After suffering their first loss in nine games at the Louisiana Superdome last week, the Carolina Panthers are back in their “friendly confines” of Bank of America Stadium this week to take on the New York Jets….and it’s an uncharacteristic 4 p.m. start time for both squads.
Had the pattern of Jets’ winning and losing a game every alternate week held, this would have been their “winning” week. Fortunately, however, the pattern was smashed about a month ago.
This is going to be a very interesting match-up and a low-scoring game, I think. Carolina’s offense is more experienced and diverse than that of the Jets as they continue to start rookie Geno Smith at quarterback.
Smith has not had the stellar numbers that the other first-round picks of the past few years have generally generated and the offense’s strength is in the ground game.
That also happens to be what Carolina’s defense is best against. If the Jets are going to fly higher than the Wright Flyer, they’re going to need at least a few big plays in the passing game. That certainly can happen, as the Saints showed us last week. The Panthers’ defense has a great front seven, but the secondary is less experienced overall and less talented. Don’t get me wrong – picking up a guy like safety Mike Mitchell, who was my pre-season “surprise player of the year” for the Panthers, was a masterstroke. However, the corners can’t cover forever and were repeatedly burned by All-Pro QB Drew Brees.
Geno Smith is no Drew Brees, has accuracy issues, has decision-making issues, and is on a relatively short leash in Rex Ryan’s conservative offense.
That plays right into Carolina’s strength on defense, so it’ll be interesting to see if there are any tweaks to the Jets’ offensive playbook. If there are, they won’t be many, and they’ll need to be effective for the Jets to have much of a chance.
On the flip side, the Jets’ defense is also their strength….and the rush defense in particular. Carolina won’t have RB James Stewart, as the injury-prone runner is again sidelined and most of the rushing should fall to DeAngelo Williams. Look for Kenjon Barner to have a few touches, but as he’s recently back from injury himself, he hasn’t been effective this year.
Cam is going to have to do what he does, and use his legs to move the chains on some key third downs. Carolina’s passing game should be more effective than that of the Jets as well, and I think Ron Rivera’s offense should look similar to how it has most of the season. Heavy on the run, play-action passes, and look for those deep out/comeback patterns a few yards past the first-down markers a lot. That’s Cam’s bread-and-butter pass play, and the ones that have made him one of the NFL’s best QBs on third downs.
Overall, I see largely a defensive struggle. Jets’ DL Muhammed Wilkerson is a real beast and rising star in the league, so keep an eye on his play. He can make plays vs both the run and the pass.
Carolina wins the turnover battle, this time 3 to 1, and the better ensuing field position should help the team keep a halfway decent margin for much of the game. Look for steady doses of Mike Tolbert in the second half especially to help shorten the game and close out the win.
Carolina Panthers 17, New York Jets 6