In another must-win game for the good guys to remain in playoff contention, the Tennessee Titans (8-6) will host the struggling New York Jets (3-11) at LP Field on Sunday afternoon.
The Titans came from behind to beat the Chiefs 26-17 last week while the Jets played well in a 20-10 loss to the undefeated Patriots.
Field: Grass (sort of). Forecast: A 20% chance of showers. Mostly cloudy, high 46° with temperatures falling throughout the evening. WSW wind 10-15 mph changing to NNW.
Jets scouting report:
- What a difference a year makes. One year ago the Jets made the playoffs. This year they've won only one game against teams not named the Miami Dolphins. Eric Mangini won some Coach of the Year awards last year, now Mangenius is being criticized for the team's poor performance this year.
- The quarterback situation has been in fluctuation in New York. Chad Pennington was the starter in September but lost his job to Kellen Clemens. Last week Clemens was sacked on the third play and knocked out of the game with a rib and/or shoulder injury. Pennington replaced him and played well against the Pats and is now expected to start Sunday.
WR Brad Smith, a quarterback in college, was in at QB for eight plays to run the spread option against the Pats. Although it resulted in one big gainer, it was otherwise ineffective. It does give the Titans defense something extra to prepare for this week.
Veteran RB Thomas Jones has gained 963 yards in his first season with New York. His backup is the speedy Leon Washington, who's scored three rushing TDs.
Laveranues Coles leads the receivers with six TDs but has a high-ankle sprain which limited him to one play last week. Smith and former Titan Justin McCareins should replace Coles. Jerricho Cotchery, who had a good game against the Titans last year, leads the Jets in receptions and receiving yardage. TE Chris Baker is a good target who's contributed 37 catches and three TDs.
2006 first-round draft picks LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and C Nick Mangold are the best o-linemen, although Ferguson has some problems in pass protection. The Jets have even bigger problems at the other line positions and are expected to address those in the offseason.
The Jets scored only three points in four red zone possessions last week. The offense is in the bottom half of the league in the key statistical categories, ranking 19th in rushing (102 ypg), 24th in passing (189 ypg), 24th in scoring (17.8 ppg) and 26th in total offense (292 ypg).
- Mangini's 3-4 defense is better against the pass than the run. Last week Mangini used some one- and two-man defensive lines and a few 2-4-5 defenses to try to confuse the Pats, which also gives the Titans something else to prepare for.
The Jets don't have a particularly good pass rush. LDE Shaun Ellis isn't the player he once was but still leads the Jets with five sacks. RDE Kenyon Coleman is third on the team with 72 tackles. NT Dewayne Robertson, who has four sacks, may be better suited to be a DT in a 4-3.
Rookie WILB David Harris has been a great addition. He leads the team in tackles with 108 and has three sacks. SILB Eric Barton has 67 tackles, WOLB Victor Hobson has 58 and SOLB Bryan Thomas has 43.
Strong safety Kerry Rhodes is the Jets' best defensive player and has five interceptions. Rookie cornerback Darrelle Revis has three picks and is showing why he was a first-round draft selection.
The Jets are tenth in the NFL defending the pass (203 ypg), 23rd in scoring defense (23.9ppg), 26th in total defense (344 ypg) and 30th in rush defense (141 ypg).
- Washington, the backup RB, is probably the second-best returner in the league, behind Devin Hester, and has three returns for TDs. Kicker Mike Nugent is average, with an 82% field goal rate. Ben Graham is a decent punter, averaging 43 yards per punt gross. The coverage units are also average, allowing 8.7 ypr on punts and 25 ypr on kicks, giving up one TD.
Keys for the Titans:
- Running the ball. The Titans can be good at it and the Jets aren't good stopping it. Avoiding turnovers is also a key.
- Get pressure on Pennington. Given time, he can pick a defense apart.
- It's easier said than done, but contain Washington, especially on kickoffs. Some touchbacks on kickoffs would be very helpful.
Matchups to watch:
- The Titans o-line vs the Jets front seven. The Jets shouldn't be able to stop the run with only seven men.
- Kyle Vanden Bosch vs Ferguson, the fourth overall pick in the 2006 draft. That will be a better matchup for the Jets than the one right alongside those two. LG Adrien Clarke, who gave up the sack that knocked Clemens out of the game last week, will have an even more difficult task trying to block Albert Haynesworth. Antwan Odom and Travis LaBoy will be going against RT Anthony Clement, who had two holding calls last week.
Unless the Jets bring their A game and catch the Titans on an off day, it should be a game the Titans can control. Tennessee is an 8½ point favorite but I don't like them quite that much.
NY Jets 17
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