Good morning Panther faithful and happy hump day! As I said in a previous post I'm not really sure if this Wednesday is technically a hump day due to the holiday, but I do know it feels like an eternity before getting to see more Panther football, and I can't wait!
Sunday's game between two 4-6 teams represents two clubs who had high expectations in 2009 but fell flat. The Panthers were heavily favored in the NFC South in the 2009 offseason. Meanwhile Jet fever started a little later, as a 3-0 start coupled with a victory over the New England Patriots started premature AFC East championship chatter and potential playoff success. Enthusiasm for both teams has since tempered with the Jets cooling off as quickly as they started, and the Panthers being completely erratic from week to week. It bodes to be an interesting game if nothing else.
How do the teams fare? Find out:
After the jump...
KEY MATCHUP: NY Jets run offense vs. Carolina run defense
Thomas Jones is a beast; there are no doubts about it. Jones represents the archetypal North- South runner who will hit your LBs in the mouth and more often than not push into your secondary. In 2009 he's averaging over 88 yards per game and 1 TD. He's a major threat.
Going into the season teams had good reason to fear the other Jets back, Leon Washington. Washington is lightning in a bottle, but since being placed on IR the Jets' Shonn Greene has shown that he can be more than a stop gap solution averaging 4.9 ypc on 44 carries. It is this tandem of Jones and Greene that has led the Jets to having the second best run offense in the NFL thus far.
Carolina's run defense is stretched about as thin as it can get at this point. Beason will still lock down the middle with aide from Hollis Thomas, but it's the edges that are hurting. The secondary will need to really help in run support, but as it stands it doesn't look great for Carolina's 26th ranked run defense.
Edge: NY Jets
NY Jets pass offense vs. Carolina pass defense
Mark Sanchez is going to be a very, very good QB in this league, but he's not there yet. His season is representative of the Jets' as a whole, big promise early but faded in the stretch. It may surprise Panther fans, but Mark Sanchez has thrown 2 more INTs than Jake Delhomme and 100 yards less in 2009.
Carolina run offense vs. NY Jets run defense
The Jets run defense is middle of the road, 16th to be precise. They have some solid players on defense, but it's clear how much it hurt losing Kris Jenkins (Carolina fans should understand that loss more than most).
On the other side of the ball it will be incumbent upon John Fox and Jeff Davidson to give Double Trouble the reigns to the offense and let them run the show. There is no team in the NFL who can stop our running backs when they get the carries they need.
Carolina pass offense vs. NY Jets pass defense
Two words, one player: Darrelle Revis. Revis may be the best young corner in the NFL (along with Oakland's Asomugha, in my mind). The young Jet has shut down almost every WR he's faced including Randy Moss twice. With only one true threat in the Carolina passing game in Steve Smith, Revis will have the ability to key in on him all day. Carolina's pass catching TEs have been more effective in recent weeks, but this is still one of the best pass defenses in the NFL we're facing.
Edge: NY Jets
The song remains the same, much as it has most of the season. The Panthers' special teams are getting better, but they're still not good. Meanwhile, the Jets surpass us in KR and PR.
Edge: NY Jets
What more can be said about Carolina's coaching? 2009 has been a never-ending series of pleasant surprises and crushing let downs by the coaching staff. Rex Ryan inherited a Jets team who he's trying to develop a hard nosed identity with. Meanwhile, John Fox has had years of knowing what this team's identity is and should be, then forgets it on Sunday.
In the end both teams are 4-6, there's no edge either way.
Much like special teams, the song remains the same. Will we run the football? If we run the ball 30 times and pass 15-20 we win this game, it's as simple as that. What's not simple, however, is knowing what our coaching staff will do on Sunday. I know if Fox, Davidson and Co. choose to throw the ball 35 times we will lose this game, and lose badly.
If Carolina loses this game I see no conceivable way for them to make the playoffs, even in the less than weak NFC this season. I'd like to think the Panthers will fight to stay in the hunt, and that wills them to victory this holiday weekend.
Carolina Panthers 20 - NY Jets 14