In spite of their different records, two NFC teams with remarkably similar styles square off today in a game with surprising playoff implications. The 6-7 Jets just snapped a three-game losing streak, and they’ll need to keep that momentum by winning their next three games if they hope to hit the playoffs. The 9-4 Panthers, meanwhile, got stomped at New Orleans last week but had won eight in a row before that. Although the Panthers have the edge, these two teams will trade serious blows today as they both have stout defenses and rely heavily on the running game. One of these teams will bolster its playoff hopes with a win today, while the loser will be dealt a serious blow. You can watch Jets vs Panthers free online using one of several different tools.
Where the New York Jets are concerned, the biggest question is which version of their starting quarterback will show up in Carolina. Rookie QB Geno Smith has been a picture of inconsistency this year, at one point going through one of the worst quarterbacking spans in league history. Last week he managed to rush for a career-high 50 yards in the Jets’ win over the Raiders, and he threw only one interception last week after bumbling his way to 23 turnovers in his previous games. Normally that would be nice momentum to have, but Smith has seldom performed well from one week to the next, so his good performance against Oakland is almost a forecast of doom headed into today’s Panthers game.
His counterpart, Panthers QB Cam Newton, has been much more consistent and for a few weeks even entered the NFL MVP discussion. Newton came out of college as a run-first type of quarterback, and in fact he can still beat many defenses with his legs and size. But during the Panthers’ eight-game winning streak, Newton found success playing a more traditional style of football, staying in the pocket longer and relying on his receivers and running back DeAngelo Williams to carry more of the load.
The fact that Newton has helped four Panthers receivers — Steve Smith, Greg Olsen, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn — average more than 11.2 yards per reception this season is a testament to his growth as a quarterback. It’s also a big reason the Jets could be in trouble today.
Watch Jets vs Panthers game today and you’ll see a Jets defense marred by ineffectiveness. It’s not that the Jets defense is bad; in fact it’s quite good, ranked 11th in the NFL. It’s that the Jets’ offense led by Geno Smith is so bad that the New York defense has been left on the field too long for too many games, leaving them without much gas in the tank as they enter week 15. During the past two weeks the Jets have given up a total of 836 yards, and the secondary alone has allowed 44 pass plays of 20+ yards. Even safety Ed Reed, brought in to shore up the New York defense, hasn’t been able to save the day. As a result, Panthers QB Cam Newton could be poised to pounce.
The Panthers defense, on the other hand, is second in the NFL and will take on not just a struggling rookie quarterback, but the NFL’s 30th-ranked overall offense. In terms of total yards, the New York Jets have held their own with a 307.5 yard average, but they’ve had issues getting to and delivering in the red zone, resulting in a paltry 17.4 points-per-game average through 13 games. Considering Carolina’s defense allows just 14.5 points per game in a league that generally averages more than the Jets put up, New York could frankly be lucky to hit double digits in Bank of America Stadium today.
You can watch Jets vs Panthers free online on DirecTV’s website if you have the NFL Sunday Ticket with MAX Package. The package requires a subscription, but anyone who has one can watch the live streaming version free of any game, including today’s 4:05pm EST / 1:05pm PST NFL game between the New York Jets and Carolina Panthers.