Sunday, December 15, 2013

Week 15 picks: Jets at Panthers

Publisher Nick St. Denis, associate editor Dan Begnoche and senior contributor Sean Donovan pick the New York Jets' cross-conference bout with the Carolina Panthers.

Nick's take:
The Jets were dead two weeks ago. Now they're alive, and just in time to face arguably their toughest test of the season in Carolina. As as much as Gang Green will want to pound the game away with Chris Ivory, they'll need to go to the air often against a very stout defensive front. Carolina, meanwhile, has no choice but to air it out against a secondary that has been gouged all season long, so this one could turn into an air affair by the second quarter. Unfortunately for the Jets, that kind of game doesn't favor them.
Prediction: Panthers 27, Jets 20

Dan's take:
Gang Green's playoff hopes are riding on this key road matchup, particularly Newton's passing performance. The Pro Bowler hasn't had to throw deep much this season, but a top-tier run defense mixed with a porous secondary may call for some early all-or-nothing decisions. Look out for receiver Ted Ginn, who's been the team's deep threat this season, but the Carolina run game will be in full effect to keep the Jets' corners in check when necessary. Jets quarterback Geno Smith and Ivory will be hard pressed to score against a stingy Panthers defense, and some home-crowd help rallies the Carolina defense to its sixth straight home victory.
Prediction: Panthers 24, Jets 14

Sean's take:
After throttling the Oakland Raiders at home last week, the Jets head south to face an entirely different caliber of opponent. The Panthers had an eight game winning streak snapped last week, and will look to get right back on track against the middling Jets. Carolina's dual threat quarterback has a home passer rating 43.1 points higher than on the road -- the highest differential in the NFL. A dominant performance by the blossoming star puts New York's 2013 season officially to bed.
Prediction: Panthers 31, Jets 13