Tomorrow afternoon the New York Jets will be taking on the Carolina Panthers. This is a big matchup for both teams as it will have a large impact on their playoff hopes. It may be shocking to hear, but the Jets still have a chance at playoff football this season.
The AFC is unbelievably bad, so bad that 8 of the 16 teams in the AFC have a record of 5-5, 5-6, or 4-6. All of those teams have a legitimate shot at one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC and the Jets are one of those teams. If the Jets win this week and the Bills, Dolphins, and Ravens lose they can move from 6th place in the Wild Card race up to 3rd and one spot out of the playoff picture.
The Jets are coming off of a tough loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their old pal Ryan Fitzpatrick. The loss against the Bucs really put a wrinkle in their playoff chances, but they got lucky that they had a bye week to prepare for this weeks matchup against the Panthers.
Unfortunately for the New York Jets, the Panthers are also coming off of a bye-week and both rosters have had an equal amount of time to rest and prepare for this big game. For the Panthers, they are not lucky enough to be in the embarrassing AFC, in fact, they are in the most competitive division in football.
Right now the Panthers are 7-3, one game behind the New Orleans Saints, and one game ahead of the defending NFC Champions, the Atlanta Falcons in their division. They are currently holding the first seed in the NFC Wild Card, but a loss this week could knock them right out of that spot depending on how the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks do.
For the Jets, this is not good news because they will be playing a very good team that is in a must-win situation like they are. Since both teams are coming off of their bye weeks let’s take a look at how they have done the past few years coming off of their bye-weeks.
The past 5 seasons the New York Jets have struggled coming off of their bye weeks they are 1-4, and under coach Todd Bowles they are 1-2. When it comes to facing teams that are coming off of their bye weeks they have struggled mightily, they have faced 4 teams in the past 5 seasons coming off of their bye weeks and have a record of 1-3. Those are not encouraging numbers considering how important this game is for their playoff hopes.
When looking at the post bye week record the past 5 seasons for the Carolina Panthers they have done a bit better, but nothing crazy. The Past 5 seasons the Panthers have posted a 2-3 record coming off of their bye-week. The 2-3 record is nothing special, however, they do have a 3-1 record against teams coming off of their bye weeks the past 5 years, which does give them a slight advantage over the Jets.
Now, these records do not have much of an impact on tomorrows game, especially because this Jets team is almost completely new on both sides of the ball. However, it does show us how Todd Bowles has handled bye weeks and teams that have come off of their bye weeks and he has struggled mightily.
I am a firm believer that good teams win after they have gotten their bye weeks, so for both teams, this is a big week. The Jets absolutely need this win because even though the majority of the AFC is struggling the Jets are going into the toughest part of their schedule.
The Jets have 6 games left including this week against the Panthers, and 4 of those games will be against teams that are currently above .500, so a loss this week would put them in a position that makes a playoff run almost impossible. If Todd Bowles wants to prove he should be the coach of the future he needs to beat the Panthers this week to show the world he can handle leading this young Jets team.
This game is also important to Josh McCown as a loss this week could lead to him sitting on the bench for the rest of the season while Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg get a shot to prove their worth. If McCown can pull off a surprising victory he will get a shot to lead the Jets into a 5 week stretch of very important games.
This Jets team is young and hungry with a lot of raw talent that has surprised the majority of the league this season by being an average team. If they can win this week they will prove that their future is bright and have an opportunity to compete in important games for the rest of the season.
Will the post bye week struggles continue, or will the Jets surprise the world once again with a victory against Cam Newton and the Panthers? We will find out tomorrow afternoon.
One important thing to note is a loss for the Jets may ruin their season, but they were not expected to have much of a season, to begin with and Todd Bowles will most likely keep his job after this season.
For the Panthers, a loss will make them 7-4, a very good record, but the rest of their season is tough and back-to-back bad seasons could lead to Head Coach Ron Rivera being dismissed from Carolina.