PANTHERS AT JETS, at METLIFE STADIUM
When: 1 p.m.
TV: Ch. 5
LINE: PANTHERS by 4 1/2
The Jets have lost four of their last five games, but they nonetheless returned from their Week 11 bye to find themselves solidly entrenched in the AFC wild-card race. They enter Sunday one game back of the Ravens for the sixth spot. Here are three keys to victory for Gang Green in a contest it must win to keep any postseason hopes alive.
KEEP CAM IN POCKET & TACKLE HIM
OLB Jordan Jenkins was asked this week what stands out to him about the Panthers offense. Jenkins, ever the sarcastic jokester, offered this response: “The guy that’s about 6-5, 240, 245 pounds. You know, that darn Cam Newton.”
The Panthers’ towering QB has been on a tear as of late, which is terrible news for the Jets. During Carolina’s current three-game winning streak, Newton is averaging 75 yards rushing. In last week’s rout of the Dolphins, Newton threw for 254 yards and four touchdowns, and he added 95 rushing yards. The Jets have to try and keep Newton in the pocket. They must be disciplined in maintaining contain on the edges, and when Newton tries to escape, they have to gang tackle. Those things are not easy to do.
GET IMPROVED PLAY FROM O LINE
The Jets’ offensive line was nothing short of abysmal the last time out in a 15-10 loss at the Bucs. The unit allowed 38-year-old QB Josh McCown to sustain 15 hits (six sacks) in Tampa. On top of that, the running game was a disaster. The Jets finished with just 56 yards on 19 carries (2.9-yard average) and 21 of those yards came on one run from Bilal Powell in the first quarter. RG Brian Winters called it the offensive line’s “worst game” of the season. He was right. Carolina allows the third-fewest rushing yards per game in the league.
SLOW DOWN PANTHERS PLAYMAKERS
The Panthers are getting one of their best weapons back this week in TE Greg Olsen (broken foot), who was activated off injured reserve. Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Darron Lee and rest of Jets D will have their hands full with him. Olsen can lineup anywhere — outside, in the backfield, in the slot, on the edge of the line. He’s a sound blocker and route runner. The Panthers also feature shifty RB Christian McCaffrey, who is a factor both in the ground game and the passing game.
JETS: RB Matt Forte (knee), Muhammad Wilkerson (foot) and G Brian Winters (abdomen) are QUESTIONABLE.
PANTHERS: CB Captain Munnerlyn (illness) is OUT. C Ryan Kalil (Neck), C Tyler Larsen (foot) are QUESTIONABLE.
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