Three things to watch: Jets at Panthers

If the New York Jets want to keep their playoff hopes alive, they'll have to knock off Cam Newton and the red hot Panthers in Carolina. Find out the three keys for the Jets to emerge with a victory in Week 15.

1. Newton's Law

The former No. 1 overall pick in the 2010 NFL draft, Cam Newton is rising the league rankings and quickly becoming one of the most feared signal-callers across the NFL. If Rex Ryan and company want any chance of pulling the upset, they'll need their beleaguered secondary to step up in a big way. New York has been victimized by deep throws down the field and Newton is a strong armed quarterback not afraid to take shots toward the end zone. Gang Green will need to keep wide receiver Steve Smith at bay as he's singlehandedly capable of taking over the contest. Newton's 20 passing touchdowns is impressive, but his ability to scrambling outside the pocket creates headaches for opposing defensive coordinators. With 88 attempts for 495 yards through 14 games, the Jets will have their hands full keeping the former Auburn standout in check.

2. Not your average Smith

Even at 33, wide receiver Steve Smith is one of the most explosive players league wide. Antonio Cromartie's skills will be put to the test as No. 89's fierce running style and blazing speed after the catch is a deadly combination to defend. What Smith lacks in size, he makes up in sheer will and determination; outworking defensive backs and using his freakish athleticism to make eye popping plays. The Jets will need to key on him during critical third down situations and inside the red zone as he's evolved into Newton's security blanket and most targeted wideout. Last week Rob Ryan's New Orleans Saints did a fantastic job of limiting Smith to just 49 yards on six receptions and Rex may need to take a page out of his brother's book if Gang Green hopes to have similar success.

3. Charles Johnson vs D'Brickashaw Ferguson

With nine sacks and 21 tackles for the season, Panthers' defensive end Charles Johnson is well on his way to a monster year. The Jets have had their issues this season protecting Geno Smith and keeping his blindside clean will be a major factor in determining Sunday's outcome. Ferguson has been rock solid for the Jets since coming into the league in 2006 and he's been a pillar of strength starting 126 consecutive games for Gang Green. New York's left tackle will need to be on his "A" game in Week 15 to help his offensive line win the battle in the trenches and prevent any free rushers at the quarterback. The Jets will need to set the tone early and keep Carolina's speed pass rushers on their heels by mixing in screens, trap plays and quick throws if they hope to keep things close on Sunday.


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