Post-Thanksgiving Six PackAfter dropping four of five games before the bye,* *the Jets will resume action Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Carolina Panthers. Both teams had an opportunity in Week 11 to rest up and perform a self-scout because the Panthers were off as well.
"We can do a lot of things better. It's not just consistency," said Jets head coach Todd Bowles. "It's finishing ball games, obviously, and penalties. It's playing together as a team and coming together as a unit. We've been up and down on that. We just have to be a little better in a couple of areas."
Ground TrendsIn the Jets' four wins, they averaged 31 rush attempts and 149 rush yards. The only time the Green & White gained 100 yards on the ground in a loss was Week 2 in Oakland. The Panthers will counter with the NFL's third-ranked rush defense (80.6 Yds/G) and a run-stopping beast in MLB Luke Kuechly.
"Obviously we have some good opponents coming up. The consistency of the run game has been up and down, but each week we do our share to try to get better and be versatile," said RG Brian Winters.
Unconventional Turnover TideRiding a three-game winning streak, the 7-3 Panthers are well north of .500 despite owning a -7 turnover differential. Cam Newton, whose new No. 1 target is rookie Christian McCaffrey (57-433-3TD), has been charged with 12 of the team's 16 giveaways.
"He's a competitor, he knows how to win football games and he knows how to do it at an exceptional level," said OLB Jordan Jenkins of Newton, who's passed for 2,232 yards and 14 touchdowns in addition to running for 436 yards and four touchdowns. "Trying to slow down a guy like that is going to be a big challenge for us and in order for that to happen, we can't have any stupid penalties and we just have to try to get after him. We have to try to control him up front because he's a guy who can throw the ball long and be dangerous by himself running the ball."
The Panthers are coming off back-to-back 200-yard rushing games for the first time in franchise history and signs are pointing to TE Greg Olsen's return to the lineup Sunday.
Kryptonite in Red ZoneIt's difficult to find a hole in the Carolina defense. Age figures to catch up with a few of their key contributors like 37-year-old DE Julius Peppers (7.5 sacks), 34-year-old WLB Thomas Davis and 36-year-old S Mike Adams at some point, but these guys are drinking from the Fountain of Youth in Charlotte. This is an experienced group who is sound to excellent in most every aspect. But if the Jets can move inside the 20, they'll line up against a unit that ranks just No. 30 in red zone defense as the have Cats surrendered touchdowns on 68.4% of opponent trips in the red area.
Drive for FiveThe ever-developing Robby Anderson leads the Jets with 568 yards receiving and five touchdown receptions. Since 2016, the second-year pro has amassed 16 receptions of over 25 yards, which is the sixth most in the NFL. He also has scored a touchdown in four consecutive games. The Panthers have limited the explosion plays through the air, ranking tied for sixth in terms of 20+ yard passing plays allowed with 25.