TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 12: Quarterback Josh McCown #15 of the New York Jets throws to a receiver while getting pressure from middle linebacker Kwon Alexander #58 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the *** quarter of an NFL football game on November 12, 2017 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

New York Jets football is back after a one-week hiatus. The question is, will it be a great return or a bum one after a week off?

This afternoon, the New York Jets will be taking on the Carolina Panthers. This is a big matchup for both teams as it will have a large impact on their potential playoff hopes. It may be shocking to hear, but the Jets still have a chance at playoff football this season.

Of course, they would do this, right after fans and critics had already given them the no. 1 pick in next year’s draft.

The AFC is unbelievably bad, so bad that eight of the 16 teams in the AFC have a record of 5-5, 5-6, or 4-6. All of those teams have a legitimate shot at one of the two Wild Card spots in the AFC and the Jets are one of those teams.

If the Jets win this week and the Bills, Dolphins, and Ravens lose, they can move from sixth place in the Wild Card race up to third and only one spot out of the playoff picture.

The Jets are coming off a tough loss against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their old pal Ryan Fitzpatrick. The loss against the Bucs really put a wrinkle in their playoff chances, but they got lucky that they had a bye week to prepare for this week’s matchup against the Panthers.

Unfortunately for the New York Jets, the Carolina Panthers are also coming off of a bye week and both rosters have had an equal amount of time to rest and prepare for this big game. For the Panthers, they are not lucky enough to be in the embarrassing AFC; in fact, they find themselves in the most competitive division in football.

Right now the Panthers are 7-3, one game behind the New Orleans Saints, and one game ahead of the defending NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons in their division. They are currently holding the first seed in the NFC Wild Card, but a loss this week could knock them right out of that spot, depending on how the Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks do.

For the Jets, this is not good news because they will be playing a very good team that is in a must-win situation, just like they are. Since both teams are coming off of their bye weeks let’s take a look at how they have done the past few years coming off of their bye weeks.

The past five seasons the New York Jets have struggled coming off of their bye weeks. They are 1-4, and only 1-2 under current head coach Todd Bowles.

When it comes to facing teams that are coming off of their bye weeks of their own, they have struggled mightily, with a record of 1-3 over the last five years in these situations. Those are not encouraging numbers considering how important this game is for their playoff hopes.

When looking at the post-bye week record the past five seasons for the Carolina Panthers, they have done just slightly better. The past 5 seasons the Panthers have posted a 2-3 record coming off of bye weeks. The 2-3 record is nothing special, however, they do have a 3-1 record against opponents who are coming off their bye weeks the past five years, which does give them a slight advantage over the Jets.

Now, these records do not have much of an impact on today’s game, especially because this Jets team is almost completely new on both sides of the ball. However, it does show us how Todd Bowles has handled bye weeks and teams that have come off of their own bye weeks and sadly, it hasn’t been overly impressive.

I am a firm believer that good teams win after they have gotten their bye weeks, so for both teams, this is a huge week. The Jets absolutely need this win because even though the majority of the AFC is struggling, the Jets are heading into the toughest stretch of games.

The Jets have six games left including today against the Panthers, and four of those games will be against teams that are currently above .500, so a loss this week would put them in a position that makes a playoff run practically impossible. If Todd Bowles wants to prove he should be the coach of the future, he needs to lead his team to victory over the Panthers in order to show the world he can handle leading this young Jets squad.

This game is also important to Josh McCown as a loss this week could lead to him riding the pine for the rest of the season while Bryce Petty and Christian Hackenberg get a shot to prove their worth. If McCown can pull off a surprising victory, he will get a shot to lead the Jets into a very important five-week stretch.

This Jets team is young and hungry with a lot of raw talent that has surprised the majority of the league this season by actually being an average team. If they can win this week, they will prove that their future is bright and have an opportunity to compete in meaningful games for the rest of the season.

One important thing to note is a loss for the Jets may ruin their season, but they were not expected to have much of a season to begin with, meaning Todd Bowles will most likely keep his job after this season.

For the Panthers, a loss will make them 7-4. While a very good record, the rest of their season is tough and back-to-back bad seasons could lead to head coach Ron Rivera being dismissed from Carolina.

Will the post-bye week struggles continue, or will the Jets shock the world once again with a victory against Cam Newton and the Panthers? Stay tuned because this one will be good.

I am a diehard Met fan going to school at SUNY Cortland to obtain a Sport Management degree. I love New York sports and I love to write about them too.