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 Sunday against Carolina – it’s just a shame he doesn’t coach an NFC South team so we’d get to see him twice a year.
-- My unofficial “over-under” on total interceptions thrown in Sunday’s game: 2.5. Jets’ rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez is second in the NFL with 16. The Panthers’ Jake Delhomme has slowed down his pace some, thankfully, but remains tied for third with 14. (Chicago’s Jay Cutler leads the NFL with 18 picks).
-- 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 TD. Expect the Jets to run a ton, too – they’ve got one of the NFL’s best rushing offenses (ranked No.2 to Carolina's No.3).
-- The Jets have one of the NFL’s great home fan bases (J-E-T-S), but this game should test those fans. Two 4-6 teams, the Sunday after Thanksgiving when lots of people are traveling – it’s not exactly your ideal circumstance. Still, it will be a greater homefield advantage than the Panthers would have if this game were in Charlotte.
-- The Panthers may 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 in what seemed like a great game in September but now looks like it won't mean much more than this one.
-- My prediction (albeit reluctantly, given the Panthers' doggish performance vs. Miami): Carolina 23, New York Jets 21.
Notes: I'm only 6-4 picking Panther games this season -- they fooled me with that loss against Miami. Check back on this blog either very late tonight or else sometime Saturday -- I'm going to post some thoughts about the Bobcats and LeBron James after covering tonight's Bobcats-Cavs game in Charlotte).
Lots to look for as Panthers start OTAs
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