Interconference Pounce: Panthers- Jets Preview

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The New York Jets have fallen to the bottom of the AFC East. But they have been a surprise none-the-less, shocking the world by beating the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium. After a couple of Patriot losses, it looked like McCown and the New York Jets were going to make a run at the AFC East … which would be a bad strategic idea. With such little depth and an aging mediocre Quarter Back, I was positive that the Jets 2017 campaign would be an intentional dive to try and compete with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns for the number one draft pick out in Dallas next April. I had them lined out at a two-win season. I guess I was only half wrong, it's just the other New York team that is competing for top draft slots.

The Cats are heading up to the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey for a very rare interconference meeting with the Jets. I don't have to explain to you the importance of this game. Staying within kicking distance of Drew Brees and the Marching Saints is dire.
The one thing Super Cam and company cannot do is under-estimate the Jets. They have a tendency of showing up and playing hard against top-level competition … especially at home, where they are 3-1 this season. The Carolina defense has been there all year, but the offense is finally starting to hit that next gear as well. After three straight wins and coming off of the best offensive performance (45-21) in their win over Miami, the Panthers are riding a wave of momentum into New Jersey.

Statistical comparison

Remember what I just said … Don’t underestimate the Jets. Offensively, the Panthers and Jets are quite comparable:

•    Panthers Total Score Avg. 21.30, Jets Total Score Avg. 20.10
•    Panthers Passing Yards 209.00, Jets Passing yards 205.30
•    Panthers Rushing yards 12.60, Jets Rushing yards 101.60
•    Panthers Yards per Play 5.12, Jets Yards per Play 5.12

Defense is where the Panthers separate themselves from the Jet:

•    Panthers allow 18 points per game, New York allows 22.2
•    Carolina allows 197.4 passing yards, New York allows 229.00
•    The Panthers allow 80.60 rushing yards, the Jets allow 117.90
•    Carolina allows 55.7 plays, New York allows 66 plays per game.
•    The Panthers allow 4.99 yards per play, the Jets allow 5.26.

The point-spread

It's not as easy to check what the different sportsbooks in Vegas think, but you can easily find the odds at Carolina is lined out as a 4.5-point favorite this Sunday. And again, this is critical. Las Vegas and sportsbooks don’t like to lose money, so these lines are not usually too far off. So, let's revert back to what I said a couple of times earlier above … just rephrased a bit and we'll label it sub-article (a): The Panthers must not sleep on the Jets. The line is less than a touchdown and the Jets have covered the spread 6-3-1 this season and 5-0 while at home. This means there is a potential for a very close game.

The good news is the Panthers have covered the numbers 80% of the time on the road this season and are 66.7% against the spread in non-conference affairs. However, since 2015 the Panthers are only 41.7% when they are away favorite. This doesn’t mean they lose those games … but just that as the favorites, games end up being much closer than expected. Again, I revert to sub-article (a). 

Momentum into a slide

What it comes down to is the Panthers are carrying a lot of momentum. They are clicking both offensively and defensively, plus they understand the value of a winning to secure that wildcard spot if the Saints keep rolling. Conversely, the Jets are in a slide and real out of the hunt. They will play hard and I don’t think this team has 'tank' in them, but the Panthers will just be too much for them to handle this weekend. I see the Panthers not only winning but covering the spread with at least a 6-point margin of victory as well.