Tough Panthers ahead for Jets

Nov 23, 2017 - 2:53 AM FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets return home to face an opponent few believe they have a chance against.

So that must mean one thing ... they have the Carolina Panthers right where they want 'em.

Whenever the computer models and pundits think the Jets are dead and buried, they come back with a vengeance, especially at MetLife Stadium. It's a sign of good coaching and the players' focus on the task at hand.

But here's the rub: Should the Jets lose Sunday's game at home to Carolina (7-3), as many expect they will, it could finally be the knockout blow to their season. New York (4-6) is only a game behind the Baltimore Ravens for the AFC's final playoff spot, but at 4-7, they would have virtually no margin for error the last five weeks.

Already in ninth place in the conference based on tiebreakers, the Jets are one of six AFC teams at 4-6. So they'll have to leapfrog plenty of teams to get themselves into postseason position, which is why head coach Todd Bowles isn't concerning himself with the myriad scenarios.

"We believe we have to win them all and will let that take care of itself," he said Monday.

Makes sense, considering the Jets have enough problems of their own.

They've lost four of their last five, and the losses have come by a combined 20 points. The only one of the four in which they didn't have at least a touchdown lead was two Sundays ago in Tampa.

While that may make fans ponder what could have been for the Jets this season, that's not how 38-year-old quarterback Josh McCown -- with his 22-48 career record as a starter -- has trained himself to think.

"Every team that has lost any game this year, across the league, would look and wish they had it back, especially if you are in the AFC," McCown said Monday. "We're still in the thick of things here with the last six weeks to play, and we just have to go out and play good football."

ESPN's Football Power Index (FPI) gives the Jets only a 31 percent chance to beat Carolina on Sunday. They are a 4.5-point underdog at home despite being 5-0 against the spread at MetLife Stadium this season.

The same ESPN model gave the Jets only a 32 percent chance to beat the Dolphins in Week 3 coming off two road losses to start the season that fueled doomsday predictions of a winless campaign. The Jets won the game, 20-6, with Miami scoring only on the last play of the game.

Then, after blowing leads in each game of a three-game skid, the Jets went into their Week 9 game against Buffalo with less than a 40 percent chance of victory, according to the ESPN FPI. Of course, they dominated the Bills, 34-21, in their most complete performance of the season.

The Jets seemed to get a big head after that, with the offense sputtering in a 15-10 loss to the Buccaneers.

In their last six games, the Jets will play four teams with a winning record, including three division leaders (Chiefs, Saints, Patriots).

"We are playing some good teams coming up, but the ball's in our court," right guard Brian Winters said Monday. "And we can decide what we want to do with it."

SERIES HISTORY: 7th regular-season meeting. Series tied, 3-3. The Panthers' first-ever win as a franchise came against the Jets on Oct. 15, 1995, at Clemson's Memorial Stadium. Carolina, which was 0-5, beat the 1-5 Jets and first-year head coach Rich Kotite, 26-15, as the late Sam Mills returned an interception thrown by Bubby Brister 36 yards for a touchdown. These teams last met Dec. 15, 2013, a 30-20 Panthers win in Charlotte, as Cam Newton connected with DeAngelo Williams for a 72-yard touchdown and Captain Munnerlyn returned an interception thrown by Geno Smith 41 yards for a score. Sheldon Richardson scored a 1-yard rushing touchdown for the Jets. The Jets and Panthers, who meet only once every four years, have had five of their six games decided by double digits, with the lone exception a 13-12 Jets win in 2001, when John Hall hit a late field goal and the Jets overcame three Vinny Testaverde interceptions.


--During this Thanksgiving week, numerous Jets were involved in community service activities in the New York City area on their Tuesday off day.

At the NYC Food Bank's location in Harlem, Quincy Enunwa, Brian Winters and former Jet Erik Coleman unloaded food off trucks, served dinner and presented the organization a check from the Jets and Berkeley College for $20,000. The Thanksgiving-style dinner drew more than 500 people.

"I think it's great because we see the smiles that they give back to us," said Enunwa, who is out for the season with a neck injury. "I think that kind of makes me smile and feel good. Jets Nation aren't just the people that come to games, it's also the people who can't make it to the games and watch it in their homes."

Through the end of the year, the Food Bank will match donations up to $1 million, according to the Jets official website.

Also on Tuesday, Josh McCown and Demario Davis served as coaches in a flag football game among service members at the Fort Hamilton Army Base in Brooklyn.

"It was a tremendous honor and a privilege to be out here with these guys," said Davis, who leads the Jets with 82 tackles. "These are the true heroes of our country. They lay their lives on the line for us."

--A familiar face to Jets fans has resurfaced in the NFL.

Longtime Jet and likely Hall of Famer, Darrelle Revis, signed with the Chiefs on Wednesday. The Jets, coincidentally, will play host to Kansas City next Sunday.

The 32-year-old had been out of the league since the Jets released him in March. A 10-year veteran and four-time first-team All-Pro, Revis was brought in by the Chiefs (6-4) to shore up a defense that is 26th in the league in receiving yards allowed.

Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton served the same role with the Jets for the first two years of Revis' career.

Revis made 25 of his 29 career interceptions for the Jets. The only years he didn't play for them was 2013, when he was with the Bucs, and 2014, when he won a Super Bowl with the Patriots.

Said head coach Andy Reid about Revis on Wednesday: "I would tell you he looks great physically. ... He's a smart guy who knows how to play the game. That becomes important at this point in his career. I'm not telling you he can't run. He can still run."

NOTES: RB Matt Forte, who missed the Jets' game in Tampa two weeks ago with a knee injury, did not practice Wednesday. ... CB Morris Claiborne, who aggravated a foot injury against the Bucs, was limited at practice Wednesday. Head coach Todd Bowles said the Jets' top cover man is "getting better" and that "he's got a chance" to play Sunday if he practices a couple more days without pain. ... LT Kelvin Beachum (non-injury related, excused) did not practice Wednesday. Head coach Todd Bowles said he expects Beachum back Thursday. ... CB Rashard Robinson (illness) did not practice Wednesday. ... DE Muhammad Wilkerson (foot) was limited at practice Wednesday. It was his first practice in more than five weeks. ... FS Rontez Miles (ankle) was limited at Wednesday's practice. ... RG Brian Winters (abdomen) was limited at Wednesday's practice.

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