Week 12 Tale Of The Tape: Carolina Panthers At New York Jets
- QuarterbackThe Panthers should be in fine shape for this game since they have won three games in a row and they are coming off the bye week. Cam Newton may be the most athletic quarterback in the league and he can create big plays with his arm or legs. However, Newton’s lack of consistency and his tendency to force the ball into coverage can cause problems against sharp defenses.The Jets have exceeded expectations this year because they were expected to join the Browns at the bottom of the league and they have won four games. Much of that is on quarterback Josh McCown who has completed 69 percent of his passes, thrown for 2,242 yards and has a respectable 14-8 TD-interception ratio. While he has made some mistakes, McCown has been a positive for the Jets.
- OffenseThe Panthers have a few issues on offense – mainly a lack of quality wideouts – but this group should be able to improve on its No. 17 rating between now and the conclusion of the regular season. The big reason for that is rookie RB Christian McCaffrey, who is already a top pass catcher and should do a bit more as a runner. Devin Funchess has five TD receptions and nine catches of 20 yards or more.The Jets don’t have a lot of overwhelming talent on the offensive side of the ball, but they have some productive players who have brought some surprising enthusiasm to head coach Todd Bowles’ offense. Veteran RB Matt Forte (knee) hopes to return for this game, while WRs Robby Anderson and Jermaine Kearse can make key catches. TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins can make the tough catch in traffic.
- DefenseThe Panthers fell apart in 2016 as they clearly had a post-Super Bowl hangover, and other problems. Head coach Ron Rivera knew that if his team is going to bounce back, it would be the defense that would lead the way and Carolina ranks second in yards allowed. MLB Luke Kuechly leads the team with 71 tackles, while DE Julius Peppers has 7.5 sacks. CB James Bradberry has 50 tackles and six passes defensed.The Jets are going to have to come up with a great defensive effort in order to contain Newton, and they know that if they can keep the pressure on him they should be able to come up with key turnovers. While Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams have not been dominant this year, both are capable of getting to the quarterback. LB Demario Davis has a team-high 82 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Panthers have always been one of the more athletic teams in the league, but their special-teams play has been ordinary. While there has been some improvement this year, they have not had a return longer than 33 yards. Graham Gano has made 20-of-21 FG attempts, and is thoroughly dependable.The Jets have had a few struggles in this area as they have been outgained on both punt and kickoff returns this season. Chandler Catanzaro has made 16-of-20 FG attempts, including both from 50 yards and beyond. Lac Edwards has a strong leg and is averaging 47.4 yards per punt.
The rested Panthers should have an advantage over the rested Jets since they are the more talented and better-positioned team. However, they have two tough games coming up against the Saints and Vikings, and they could be vulnerable here if they look past the Jets.