Sep. 29, 2013: New York Jets at Tennessee Titans. Let’s take a glance at seven keys to victory for the Titans in their upcoming Week 4 matchup. Who are 10 players that could have a significant impact on this contest?
Jake Locker should have confidence aplenty after his game-winning 94-yard touchdown drive against the San Diego Chargers. Much like his performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers, what’s most important isn’t the amount of total yards on his stat line; it’s the number on the interception column.
Can Locker start his season with four consecutive games without an interception? Unless Locker gives away points and field position, the Jets will have a difficult time scoring enough points to win this matchup. Locker just needs to make enough plays and not let the Jets defense beat him.
Interior Offensive Line (Primarily Rob Turner)
The Jets are coming off a game where they had eight sacks on Buffalo Bills quarterback E.J. Manuel. Since 2009, Rex Ryan has coached inside an AFC East division that includes Tom Brady. His defense beat Peyton Manning in a 2011 AFC Wild Card game. Ryan understands how to get the most out of his defensive players with exotic schemes
The Jets have no lack of talent on their defensive line. Leading that group is Muhammad Wilkerson, who has three sacks in three games. Will Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson, Wilkerson and the rest of the front seven provide an overwhelming amount of pressure on Rob Turner and Chance Warmack?
Strong Defensive Start
Two opening-possession touchdowns in the first three games. The Titans were a Ben Roethlisberger fumble inside the goal line away from teams scoring touchdowns in each of the first three games on opening possessions. They mustn’t let that happen here. If it does happen, it’s critical that the offense retains its composure because fans will panic if the team falls behind 7-0.
Feeding Chris Johnson, Ball-Carriers
Last season, Chris Johnson had 21 carries for 122 yards. Twenty of those carries went for 28 yards. The Jets defense buckled down after allowing a 94-yard touchdown run that was the difference in that 14-10 victory. The Jets enter this game as one of six teams with a run-defense that allows fewer than 80 yards per game.
Week 3 was full of sloppiness from both teams. The Titans had 11 penalties for 116 yards. The Jets had 20 penalties for 168 yards. Somehow, both teams exited the week with victories.
The Titans can’t afford to sacrifice field position and scoring opportunities on boneheaded mistakes, especially on special teams. Penalties and turnovers can turn what appears like a sure-win into a near-disaster—or worse.
Maybe the biggest difference between these two clubs: turnover differential. The Titans (+5) are one of four teams with at least a +5 advantage in takeaways. The other three teams are all undefeated. The Jets (-6) are 30th out of 32. The other two teams are winless.
If the Titans protect the football, the Titans protect their house.
One of the biggest reasons for the Jets’ 2-1 start: red-zone defense. Even if an offense plays poorly, they can remain within striking distance if the defense can keep their opponents scoring 3s instead of 7s. Can the Titans score touchdowns against one of the NFL’s top-tier defenses?