When Rex Ryan's crew takes on Carolina on Sunday, it will be looking for a better result than the last two it has gotten. Thus far, the Jets are winless in preseason play and their offense has been completely ineffective, suffering defeats to Cincinnati (17-6) and the Giants (26-3).
The Panthers, meanwhile, dropped their first preseason contest to Houston but are coming off a 23-17 victory over the Dolphins, and they'll be looking to sustain that momentum. If only Cam Newton (with some help from Derek Anderson) can keep it going.
Here's where and when you can see (or hear) it all go down on Sunday.
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
When: Sunday, August 26 at 8 p.m. ET
Live Stream: NFL.com
Listen: Sirius 88 in New York, Sirius 92 in Carolina
What's At Stake?
Not a whole lot. This game won't be about an epic battle between two rookie quarterbacks, or the resurgence of a future Hall-of-Famer, or the latest chapter in a can't-miss rivalry.
It is, however, another opportunity for a tune-up. And the Jets would like to score a touchdown sometime soon.
Yes, this is only the preseason, but the Jets would prefer to enter the regular season with a win or two on their plates, and there's no better place to start than the Carolina defense, which finished 28th in the league in 2011.
Newton, meanwhile, is doubtlessly eager to get this season off to a better start than the last, when he was impressive—throwing for 4,051 yards and 21 touchdowns—despite the team's overall record of 6-10. There's no better place to start a turnaround than with a few solid wins in the preseason.
Key Injuries: Jets (via CBSSports.com)
RB Joe McKnight (shin) is questionable for Sunday's game.
WR Santonio Holmes (back, rib, hamstring) is questionable for Sunday's game.
WR Jeremy Kerley (hamstring) is questionable for Sunday's game.
DB Eric Smith (knee, hip) is questionable for start of regular season.
Key Injuries: Panthers (via CBSSports.com)
WR Steve Smith (foot) is questionable for Sunday's game.
LB Jon Beason (hamstring) is questionable for Sunday's game.
LB Thomas Davis (calf) is questionable for Sunday's game.
RB Jonathan Stewart (calf) is questionable for Sunday's game.
DL Andre Neblett (suspension) is out until Week 5 vs. Seattle.
Fantasy Prospect to Watch: Santonio Holmes
He's too much of a big name to be overlooked in your drafts, but should he be? There's still some lingering doubt about whether or not Holmes is going to be able to be effective for the start of the regular season, given his rib injury.
The latest prognosis, however, is good, according to ESPNNewYork.com's Kieran Darcy: Thursday marked his second straight day of practice, and even though he was restricted to "a few live reps," seeing him come back was a plus.
Darcy also reports that head coach Rex Ryan hopes to see Holmes in the game this Sunday—the perfect opportunity for us to gauge how effective he'll be in the early going this season.
Last season was far from Holmes' best season, but he still managed to match a career-high with eight touchdowns. And there's also the fact that Plaxico Burress is gone, so if he's healthy, Holmes can be expected to shoulder more of the load.
What They're Saying
Tim Tebow is the biggest crowd-pleaser of them all in New York. According to ESPNNewYork.com's Jane McManus, during an open practice this week, the quarterbacks were embroiled in an intense competition in which the goal was to be the first to throw the football into a garbage can that was placed about 25 yards away.
Guess who was first—among Tebow, Sanchez, Matt Simms and Greg McElroy—to hit the target?
It was Tebow.
And guess how many attempts it took him? Somewhere between 10 and 15, according to McManus.
Meanwhile, the Panthers were energized by their win over the Dolphins last week—their first W of the preseason—and according to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, all of the Hard Knocks cameras chronicling the game made the victory that much sweeter.
In fact, destroying the Dolphins—especially rookie Ryan Tannehill, who was sacked three times—may have given the Panthers defense the confidence it needed to do the same to its next AFC East opponent.
According to Person, the starters will get the bulk of the playing time on Sunday, so this matchup will offer a good indication of where this team stands heading into the season opener.
New York's Key Addition(s)
Let's bypass the obvious and focus on someone other than Tim Tebow.
The Jets have attempted to add some big guns to their secondary this offseason by picking up LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, who bring boatloads of experience with them to New York.
In March, New York signed Landry to a one-year deal worth $4 million, according to Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com, and it added Bell a couple of months later, signing him to a one-year, $1.4 million deal, according to Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith.
Having an excellent defense is crucial in the AFC East—at least if you want to be able to contend with Tom Brady and his prime targets. One of the Jets' primary focuses this offseason was strengthening this position, so adding these two was key.
Carolina's Key Addition(s)
In 2011, the Panthers ranked seventh in the league in total offense, so one big focus heading into this season was making sure to maintain that. That starts with the offensive line—and Bruce Campbell.
In late March, the Panthers traded running back Mike Goodson to Oakland in exchange for Campbell, and though the offensive tackle doesn't have a ton of experience—he played in just 14 games in the last two years with the Raiders—the Panthers are confident that he can be an impact player.
Back in March, Carolina GM Marty Hurney told Pro Football Talk's Michael David Smith:
We think Bruce Campbell is a very young, talented offensive lineman who has all the physical qualities to play in this league. He played guard his first two seasons with the Raiders, but we will look at moving him to tackle.
Cam Newton's success is going to begin and end with this offensive line, so if Campbell is as good as Hurney believes, this could be a big boon for the Carolina offense.
Prediction: Panthers Win
Even with the starters taking most of the reps in this matchup, the Panthers—specifically, Newton—will build off last week's big win and make it two in a row.
It won't be all bad news for the Jets, though: After failing to throw a touchdown pass for the first two games of this preseason, Sanchez and Tebow will finally get this offense going—just not with as much efficiency as Newton.
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