Rattling rookie QB could pay off
The Jets' MARK SANCHEZ has thrown six interceptions in the past two games and has 16 for the season, third most in the league. After helping the Jets to a 3-0 start, it looks like the intricacies of playing quarterback in the NFL have caught up with Sanchez, who was the Jets' No. 1 pick last spring. Carolina's front four, which has not had a sack in two games, needs to pressure Sanchez.
Rediscover the run 'D'
The Panthers seemed to have gotten a handle on their rush defense when they signed HOLLIS THOMAS in October, holding five of six opponents to fewer than 100 yards. But Miami shredded Carolina for 154 yards Nov. 19 and the Panthers get the Jets and their second-ranked rushing offense today. Thomas Jones (884 yards) and Leon Washington (331) both average 4.6 yards per carry. Washington is out for the season, but the Jets are still running strong.
What once was a strength ...
The situation at linebacker has become dire for the Panthers. All-Pro middle linebacker JON BEASON is the only healthy starter. Weak-side linebacker THOMAS DAVIS went out for the season with a hurt knee, and the same fate befell his replacement, LANDON JOHNSON against Miami. Now NA'IL DIGGS (strongside) is questionable with a rib injury. If Diggs does not play, JAMES ANDERSON and DAN CONNOR would play alongside Beason.
David Scott's key numbers
2 Rookies who played for first time last week against Miami (receiver Charly Martin and tackle Garry Williams, both on special teams).
4 Consecutive games with a run of at least 25 yards by DeAngelo Williams.
32 League ranking in punt and kick return averages.
41 Touchdown passes from Jake Delhomme to Steve Smith since 2002, second most behind Colts' Peyton Manning-Reggie Wayne combo (59).
155 Consecutive extra points by John Kasay.
6 Losses in past seven games, after 3-0 start.
6 Teams in NFL history with back-to-back 300-yard rushing games (Jets did it Oct..18 vs. Buffalo, Oct..25 vs. Oakland).
14 First-round draft picks on roster (Panthers have seven).
36 Catches by Jerricho Cotchery (N.C. State), leading the team.
71 Yard run by Thomas Jones against Bills, the fifth longest in franchise history.
Scott Fowler observations
For sheer entertainment value, I love New York Jets coach REX RYAN. He said in the offseason that he didn't come to New York to "kiss Bill Belichick's rings." He cried in front of his team after a recent loss, then jokingly introduced Kleenex as his new sponsor a few days later.
Ryan also said last week he felt "disrespected" by the Patriots, who unsuccessfully threw deep with 30 seconds to go with a 31-14 lead. I hope Ryan does something controversial today - it's just a shame he doesn't coach an NFC South team so we'd get to see him twice a year.
My "over-under" on interceptions thrown today: 2.5. Jets' quarterback MARK SANCHEZ is third in the NFL with 16. The Panthers' JAKE DELHOMME has slowed down his pace some, , but remains tied for fourth with 14.
The Jets are mediocre at stopping the run, so DEANGELO WILLIAMS better get at least 20 carries today. He only had 13 last week, which was a crime given that he averaged 9.4 yards per carry and Carolina lost by a touchdown.
The Panthers might as well get used to the visitor's locker room. They return to the same stadium in a month to play the New York Giants.
Carolina 23, New York Jets 21