The Jets and Titans face off on Sunday in Nashville. For Tennesse, it’s a must-win game in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Jets, on the other hand, are counting the days until the season is over, they can fire Todd Bowles, Mike Mccagnan and start fresh with Sam Darnold. Both teams come into this game having lost last week, so they will be looking to turn things around.
Watching the Titans on Monday night football a couple of things were painfully clear. The Titans have to change if they want to win out and get a shot at the playoffs. Firstly, they have to protect Mariota better. The Titans have given up 11 sacks in their last two games, now giving them a total of 39 sacks allowed this season. That’s the worst in the league. Against a poor Jets defensive line, if you are a Titans fan you’ve really got to hope you can win that battle; in order to give Mariota more time to find his receivers downfield.
Secondly, Matt LeFleur needs to open up this offence. Mariota went 22 of 23 but far too many throws were around the line of scrimmage or under 10 yards. In a league exploding with high flying offences, it seems to me that this philosophy of rushing to set up the pass is about as outdated as CDs are now. Corey Davis is the only player who poses any real threat in the passing game. Players like Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe need to step up their play on the outside and help Mariota. LeFleur needs to put some confidence in his rushing attack, Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry had just a combined 15 carries between them. The Titans play goes with their play, if LeFleur can trust them to carry the load and churn out yards they will. Then the Titans will be in a better position to succeed.
Thirdly, I know the Titans have a top 10 ranked defence but it was appalling on Monday. They let the Texans rush for 281 yards! Players like Kevin Byard, Wesley Woodyard and Jurrell Casey have been playing well this season. But the whole defence needs to play as a unit rather than some players lacking behind others. Now facing the Jets, this will be a get well game for the defence. Sam Darnold looks hopeful to play so expect the Titans to bring pressure and be in his face all game long. If they do that then they will win.
New York Jets
Last week, the Patriots overpowered the Jets after about 3 quarters as they always do. As for the rest of the defence the less said the better. New York is ranked 26th in sacks with 22 so far this season. That’s not good enough for a team that prides itself on having a good defence. They haven’t had a good pass rusher since John Abraham! It needs to change in the offseason if this defence wants to be talked about as one of the best.
Marcus Mariota has thrown 2 touchdown passes in his last three games. Jamal Adams at safety has been playing at a Pro Bowl level this season. But it can’t just be him his teammates need to step up and start making some plays. The Jets look primed to win just one more remaining game after this weekend. So they need to come out all guns blazing on defence and target Tennesse’s offensive line which has struggled. If they do that, get some turnovers and score on defence. The Jets might have a chance in this one.
Jeremy Bates the Jets offensive coordinator must be feeling the heat. This week, running back Isiah Crowell called him out saying, “I just feel like we gotta commit more to the run and I feel like we’d be doing better if we committed more to the run,”. Crowell set the Jets single-game rushing record in week 6 against the Denver Broncos with 219 yards. Since then Crowell has just 192 yards in six games and the Jets haven’t won! If Darnold plays, I expect Crowell’s wish to be fulfilled because Bates surely won’t want him throwing 50 times likes Josh McCown did last week. If Crowell can hit the heights of week 6 then expect the Jets to win this game.
This is it for Tennesse, they have to win out in order to have a shot at the postseason. They will play hard and fast for head coach Mike Vrabel. Regardless of who starts for the Jets, Tennesse has the better quarterback coming off one of his best games. In a slow game, dominated by running attacks, I think that Tennesse will prevail at home with a win.
New York Jets 17 – 24 Tennesse Titans.
Alex Riley is a 49ers fan who’s followed the game since 2010. He’s currently at the University of Leicester. You can find him on Twitter at @NFLRiley and his blog at www.rileynfl.wordpress.com
Image from titansized.com