It’s been anything but a routine pre-season for the much-maligned New York Jets. They’ve stolen all the headlines in New York, but it hasn’t been because of their on-field performance. The Jets are a daily soap opera, with fights routinely breaking out in training camp, while also hosting the ongoing saga that is back-up quarterback Tim Tebow. There are a lot of distractions within this Jets group and it seems like it’s impeding their ability to play football. New York, and specifically their offense, has looked abysmal in August. They’ve yet to score a touchdown through two games, and head coach Rex Ryan is right to be concerned. Though their game against the Panthers won’t count in the standings, the Jets know it’s imperative to start building momentum in order to right the ship before the regular season commences.
Meanwhile, the Panthers are raring to go for the upcoming NFL season. They were steady last year and remain loaded with young talent at key positions. Carolina has prepared for this contest as if it’s their regular season opener. They have game-planned for the Jets and are expected to let their starters go well into the third quarter. However, the Panthers aren’t without injuries as key receiver Steve Smith will sit out, as will starting middle linebacker, Jon Beason.
Though this is just a pre-season tune-up game, both sides know it’s likely the final opportunity for their starters to play extended minutes before September rolls around. While the Panthers have looked solid in August, the Jets still have a ton to prove and a lot more riding on Sunday’s contest. Rex Ryan needs a win for himself, his team, and for the critics to lay off his squad. Expect a heated affair Sunday evening.
Panthers vs. Jets Spread and Betting Odds:
Carolina Panthers +2.5 (-110)
@ New York Jets -2.5 (-110)
Over 40.5 (-110)
Under 40.5 (-110)
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Panthers vs. Jets Pick:
A ton of emphasis has been put on the Jets’ offence in the lead-up to this game. Mark Sanchez seemingly hasn’t gotten any better since his struggles of last season, but the Jets have yet to allow him to really air it out. Look for that to come Sunday evening as Sanchez gets his top target back from injury in Santonio Holmes. Rex Ryan has already stated that his starters will go very deep against Carolina, and he is all too aware that this is their last chance to build something positive before heading into their regular season opener against the Buffalo Bills. The Panthers really should be easy pickings for a focused Jets squad. Carolina was 28th in total defense last season, and with injuries and no new additions to help bolster that unit, look for a much improved performance from the Jets on the offensive side of the ball.
Additionally, not only is Sanchez getting Holmes back, he’s also getting top slot receiver Jeremy Kerley back into the fold as well. This game will mark the first time Sanchez is given his full complement of wide-outs and it will be interesting to see what he can do with all his weapons at his disposal.
The Jets organization knows this is much more than a pre-season game to them. They desperately need something to start trending in their direction. Though going against the prolific Cam Newton is tough, the Jets have practiced against a similar style of quarterback in Tim Tebow all pre-season, and should be ready for his unique mix of speed and athleticism.
Look for the Jets to turn in an inspired performance with Sanchez and company looking solid against a poor Carolina defence. Rex Ryan can’t afford another dismal performance, especially at home, and he’ll do what it takes to get the victory. Consider the Jets in a close one that’ll feel a lot like a regular season encounter.