Two of the AFC’s best will battle at LP Field on Sunday, as the 10-0 Tennessee Titans “welcome” the 7-3 New York Jets. After a lackluster 1-2 start, the Jets have gone 6-1 to currently sit alone atop the highly competitive AFC East. While it hasn’t always been pretty, the Jets quarterback has been able to limit his mistakes enough to win ball games, and played superbly in New York’s 34-31 OT victory against the Patriots in New England. Favre will face his toughest challenge of the season in the Tennessee Titans, but a win would put the Jets into the upper echelon of the conference in the “whose the best team in the AFC?” conversations.
Titans Passing Offense vs. Jets Defense:
Kerry Collins has emerged over the last two games as not only an experienced, safe, “game manager,” but as a legitimate threat in the passing game as well. The New York Jets have the 28th ranked passing defense in the league, already giving more than 250 yards to Chad Pennington, Phillip Rivers, Trent Edwards, Tyler Thigpen, and over 400 yards to Matt Cassell (400) and Kurt Warner (472). There are some “names” in that group, to be sure, but in over half of their games they’ve been abused, and two of them embarrassingly (to be fair, somehow they managed to win both of the 400+ yard games). Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis and his four interceptions are the lone bright spot in the secondary. In the last four games, Collins has averaged nearly 225 yards per game, but more importantly, the Tennessee receiving corps has stepped up as a group. Add Justin Gage (finally looking healthy) and Brandon Jones (starting to play like we’ve hoped he would) to the consistency of Bo Scaife, Justin McCairens and Chris Johnson (receiving out of the backfield) and you’ve got an effective group. Against the Jets you might not even need that.
Titans Rushing Offense vs. Jets Defense:
The Jets run a 3-4 defense, which requires dominant players on defensive line and solid play from the linebacker position. Outside of Albert Haynesworth, Kris Jenkins is probably the best DT in the NFL right now. He helps clog the middle at nose tackle for the 4th overall rushing defense in the NFL, covering some of the slack for the Jets’ aforementioned lack of a secondary. Defensive end Shaun Ellis is also having a nice year (7.5 sacks). Jets’ linebacker Eric Barton is playing at a high level right now and expect to hear his name mentioned often this Sunday. On the Titans side of the ball, the running game has not been as explosive in recent weeks, as teams have committed most of their defensive resources to stop running backs LenDale White and Chris Johnson. The Jets are tough against the run, especially in the first half, but the Titans will have some success moving the ball on the ground, because the Jets will have to respect our passing attack.
Jets Passing Offense vs. Titans Defense:
The Jets have one of the all-time greats at the quarterback position. Other media outlets have covered this gentleman in full detail, so we can move on… (I will say he has been passing the ball all around the field, with dangerous wideouts Jerricho Cotchery, Laveranues Coles and rookie tight end Dustin Keller being his favorite targets)
The Titans have played excellent coverage all year, but this week may be tough. Starting cornerback Nick Harper is injured, and so are backups Eric King and Reynaldo Hill. Kick returner Chris Carr played exceptionally at CB last week, but against a far less potent passing offense. This week may be a challenge for him; look for Titans safeties Chris Hope and Michael Griffin to help him out, and we may see back-up safeties Donnie Nickey and Vincent Fuller’s numbers called too. To compound problems, Tennessee is also banged up at defensive line. Kyle Vanden Bosch has practiced some this week, but it remains to be seen how effective he can be. Also hurt are linemen Jason Jones and William Hayes, both who have become contributors. So Titans fans have some reason to be concerned about our pass-rush.
Jets Rushing Offense vs. Titans Defense:
New York has greatly improved its offensive line over the last few years, drafting monstrous offensive tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and signing free agents Alan Faneca and Damien Woody. Jets running back Thomas Jones is having a great year – 854 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns. Multi-faceted back-up Leon Washington is having a good year too, so the Titans will need to account for him catching passes out of the backfield and returning kicks on special teams.
Even with our injuries on the line, the Titans should be able to limit New York’s running game, and from the d-line to the linebackers to the secondary, our defense is uniformly solid in its tackling. The best defenses the Jets have faced this year are division foes Miami and New England; the Titans defense is in a different league.
It might not always be reflected in the stats, but I defy anyone to name a better pair of kickers than Rob Bironas and Craig Hentrich. In the return game Leon Washington gives the Jets an edge, unless Chris Johnson gets called in to spell Chris Carr, then all bets are off.
For much of the season this has looked to be an interesting game. As the Titans have kept winning, and as New York, with a new quarterback, has seemed to be playing with a spark it has been lacking for years. Both teams are now coming off impressive wins, and are eyeing playoff seedings. As always, Jeff Fisher will have the team prepared and composed, but the Titans will be under the most pressure, with their perfect record on the line, and with key injures on defense.
This will be a fun game to watch. Our injuries, particularly in the secondary, will likely see us give up the most points this season. To win, the Titans will probably need to score over 24 points. Our offense is capable of doing it, but we’ll need some big plays on defense and special teams to help. The Titans have found a way to make those plays every time they’ve needed them this season. The Titans hold on and win a close one.
Titans 30 Jets 26
Topics: Alan Faneca, Albert Haynesworth, Bo Scaife, Brandon Jones, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, Chris Carr, Chris Hope, Chris Johnson, Craig Hentrich, D'Brickashaw Ferguson, Damien Woody, Darrelle Revis, Donnie Nickey, Eric Barton, Eric King, Jason Jones, Jeff Fisher, Jerricho Cotchery, Justin Gage, Justin McCareins, Kerry Collins, Kris Jenkins, Kurt Warner, Kyle Vanden Bosch, Laveranues Coles, LenDale White, Leon Washington, LP Field, Matt Cassell, Miami Dolphins, Michael Griffin, New England Patriots, New York Jets, Nick Harper, Philip Rivers, Reynaldo Hill, Rob Bironas, Shaun Ellis, Tennessee Titans, Thomas Jones, Trent Edwards, Tyler Thigpen, Vincent Fuller, William Hayes