The New York Jets (4-6) take on the Carolina Panthers (4-6) this Sunday at Meadowlands (1pm EST). The Jets are losers of 6 of their last 7 games while the Panthers have lost 3 of their last 5. Lets take a look at how these two struggling teams match-up.
New York Jets Offense vs. Panthers Defense
It is no secret that the Jets want to run the ball as they are ranked #2 in the NFL. Add in the fact that Carolina’s defense is ranked 26th against the run and the game plan for the Jets is pretty obvious. If the Jets can effectively run the ball, the passing lanes for quarterback Mark Sanchez will open up, as will the play action pass. It is important for the Jets to help rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez gain some confidence early with the short passing game in order to avoid him forcing any throws.
New York Jets Defense vs. Panthers Offense
As with the Jets, the Panthers offense is built around their running game. Carolina has two very good backs in DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart that can take over the game if the Jets defense struggles. If Gang Green can control the run, they can then apply pressure on quarterback Jake Delhomme who has a propensity to throw interceptions. Delhomme tends to be a streaky quarterback therefore the Jets must continue to make him uncomfortable in the pocket.
Both of these teams are very similar, as they love to run the ball and have quarterbacks that are struggling with turnover problems. The defenses are loaded with some big-time playmakers but for whatever reason the unit as a whole has struggled to make plays to win games. I have a hard time picking the Jets this week for a variety of reasons. The Jets are a team that has lost its swagger as well as their identity, and head coach Rex Ryan is fumbling around trying to find it. While Ryan did bench safety Kerry Rhodes, the Jets have several other performance issues that need to be addressed. The Jets will also be playing in front of a bitter home crowd. Losing does not sit well with Jets fans, let alone when it is 6 of their last 7 games. If Gang Green comes out flat or starts performing poorly early, the boo-birds will be coming out of the woodwork.
Prediction: Panthers 17-14.