With a shot at making the playoffs hanging by a thread, the (6-7) New York Jets travel to LP Field in Nashville to take on the (4-9) Tennessee Titans in a must-win Monday night match-up (8.40pm ET).
The 2012 season has certainly not gone the way many Jets’ fans had hoped. Mired in inconsistency and a nationally recognized quarterback controversy, New York has failed to play at the level needed to compete in the tough AFC East. They have also failed to come together as a cohesive unit and rank near last in offensive passing yards with just over 186 per game (30th in NFL).
Other than a dominant 35-9 win over the Indianapolis Colts, which could loom large in terms of possible playoff jostling, the Jets have not really come into as much success as they should have. As a team, New York’s best asset is its pass defense which ranks third best in the league.
The Titans have not been the same since Vince Young led the team back in the mid to late 2000s. In fact, Tennessee hasn’t made or even contended for a playoff spot since the Young era ended in 2007. The addition of Chris Johnson at running back was promising, especially after his 2010 campaign, but it still hasn’t put the Titans in a position to compete in the tough AFC South. This season was no different. Led by the quarterback combination of young gun slinger Jake Locker and veteran Matt Hasselbeck, the Titans have managed to win just one game on the road.
Going into the match-up, the Titans are actually favored in the spread by a point or so. While the Jets have a better record this is really not that surprising. On the season, New York has been shaky on the road, posting just a 3-3 record in six contests that have been away from MetLife Stadium. At this point in the season and with the way both teams have played, this could be anybody’s game.
Key Match-Up: NYJ running game vs. (TEN) Titans run defense vs. TEN running game vs. NYJ run defense
All of that is a bit of a mouthful and might sound confusing, but there is no truer story. This game essentially then, will be decided based on which team’s rushing defense can prevent the opposition’s running back from scoring and racking up yards.
Neither the Jets nor the Titans are going to win a game that is solely put on either Locker’s or (NYJ) Mark Sanchez’s arm.
Sanchez has struggled mightily against the blitz this season and it has shown in his numbers. Barring his rookie year, the now fourth year quarterback is actually having the worst season of his career with 13 interceptions thrown to just 12 touchdown passes. He is completing just over 50% of his passes and has seen his own rushing stats plateau dramatically compared to three 100 yard seasons to open his career.
Running back Shonn Greene however, is having one of the better years of his also four-year career. He will likely surpass his career high 253 carries he amassed last season and is just four touchdowns shy of reaching double digits in that category for the first time in his career. In Jets’ victories, Greene has been a different player, rushing for over 60 yards in all but one game and having no less than 18 attempts in all games. In losses, Greene has had as few as eight carries as Sanchez has run the offense and not done so with success.
The same story is true for the Titans who have floundered mightily since promoting Locker to the role of starting quarterback. On the season, Locker who is now in his second season out of Washington University has won just two games in which he has started this season. In those two wins, Locker threw four touchdowns to zero interceptions and also surpassed 400 yards total. In losses, Locker has just five touchdowns versus nine interceptions. Hampered by injuries to star wide receiver Kenny Britt, the Titans have on numerous occasions, turned to running back Chris Johnson.
Johnson has not seen the success he had in 2010, a time when he declared that he was going to set and break records established by NFL greats now retired. In 2012, Johnson has just four touchdowns, three of which have come in Tennessee victories. Still, even when Johnson has rushed for over 100 yards, the Titans are only 2-2 in those games.
Considering that by far, the best asset of both of these teams is their running game and that their running game is not superb, tells the story of why both the Titans and Jets are having mediocre seasons. Still, because this is the bread and butter, the winner or loser could come down to who defends the run better.
On the season, defending the run has been almost non-existent for the Jets. Their line backers have struggled to keep up with the opposition and have given up nearly 140 yards per game. Johnson’s per game average is under that, ranked just 23rd with 104.8 yards a game. On the other side of the ball, Tennessee is defending the run at just a slightly better rate. Ranked 24th in the NFL, the Titans allow 127 yards to opposing rushers, which is slightly less than the Jets average of 119.1 rushing yards a game.
New York Jets at Tennessee Titans Picks Verdict
Sanchez and Locker are never going to be great pocket passers and as has been the case this season, will certainly rely on their running games. Right now the Jets rushing game is just a little bit better and as a result.
- Bet on the New York Jets +1pt @ odds of +100 (evens) with BetOnline. Alternatively take the +1.5pts at slightly shorter odds of -110 with Bovada. In terms of value these bets are pretty equal.
- NOTE to Non-Americans: Place this bet with Bet365.