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What You Need to Know About the Panthers

Carolina Is Led by Its Defense, Offense Runs Through Newton


The Jets return to MetLife Stadium in their first game following the bye and will square off against the 7-3 Panthers, who are also coming off a week of rest.

Carolina's strength is its No. 2 overall defense, featuring inside linebacker Luke Keuchly, who leads the team with 71 tackles and three interceptions. The ageless defensive end Julius Peppers paces the Panthers with 7.5 sacks in his 16th NFL season and Mario Addison, who lines up opposite Peppers, has racked up 6.5. While the defense is playing at a high level, Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer believes the Jets should look to take advantage of the cornerback spot opposite James Bradberry.

"That's been kind of a revolving door this year," Person said on The Official Jets Podcast Game Preview. "It's been mostly a rotation between Daryl Worthy, who came in as a third-round pick after the Josh Norman decision. Then they traded with Buffalo right before the season started and they got a former Southern Cal corner Kevon Seymour. Neither of those guys have been particularly good. They haven't given up huge plays, that's probably the only saving grace. But they've been consistently picked on and have given up quite a bit of underneath and intermediate yardage."

Offensively, the unit both literally and figuratively runs through quarterback Cam Newton, who ranks second on the team with 436 yards while averaging 5.9 yards on the ground. The Jets defensive line will have a tough task with the 6'5", 245-pound Newton as he's debatably the league's premiere dual-threat signal caller. Additionally, the Panthers' passing game could receive a shot in the arm with the potential return of their three-time Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen, who broke his foot in Week 2.

"That is not a minor thing for this offense," Person said of a potential Olsen return. "This is a guy that became the first tight end in NFL history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons. They played okay at that position without him. Ed Dickson, who incidentally is the only guy on this team with a Super Bowl ring having won it with the Ravens two years ago, he's done okay.

"What's hurt them is with Dickson having to get into the primary tight end receiving role, he's really a blocking tight end and it's been a trickle-down effect," Person added. "Certainly from the Panthers standpoint, they'd like to get Greg Olsen back and their Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil. He's missed pretty much all but a game and a half this season with a lingering neck issue."

Offensive Matchup to Watch: Josh McCown vs. Panthers Defense
The last time the Jets offense took the field, the unit posted its lowest point total of the 2017 season and yielded a season-high six sacks. Quarterback Josh McCown harped on consistency and they'll have a difficult test this Sunday against the league's No. 4 ranked pass defense. Interestingly, Carolina's CBs haven't registered any interceptions in 2017 and the team ranks No. 29 in the league with nine total takeaways.

Defensive Matchup to Watch: Jets D vs. Zone Read
The Jets have to be aware of the zone read Sunday as the Panthers like to try and get opposing defenses off of their mark with QB Cam Newton and RBs Jonathan Stewart and Christian McCaffrey. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back games with 200 yards rushing, but they'll face an improving run defense who has held three of its last four opponents to under 100 yards on the ground.

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