With both teams sitting at 2-11, Sunday will be a battle of draft position when your New York Jets travel to Tennessee to square off with the Titans. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. and the game can be viewed on CBS.
Last week was another heart breaker in a season full of them. The Jets were defeated 30-24 in overtime by the Vikings, losing on an 87-yard screen pass in overtime. Quarterback Geno Smith got the start and began the game as miserable as possible, with a pick-six. Smith did settle down to throw for 254 yards and a touchdown, doing a good job of using his feet to evade traffic.
The Jets could see the return of two key players. Rookie tight end Jace Amaro (concussion) said he’s ready to play after missing two straight games. Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (turf toe) is questionable and will likely be a game time decision. If Wilkerson can go, it would be a big boost for the defense and would give them an opportunity to feast on a Titans offensive line ravaged with injuries.
However, the Jets may be without wide receiver Percy Harvin (low ankle sprain). Harvin was in the midst of an incredible six-catch, 124 yard, one touchdown game before spraining his ankle in the second half last week. Harvin said he’s going to play, however head coach Rex Ryan was less optimistic about things. He too could be a game time decision.
The Jets will be opposed by the Tennessee Titans. Think the Jets quarterback situation has been bad the past few years? Consider that the Titans are going to have a different leading passer for the eighth straight season. Jake Locker is going to get the nod in this one for the Titans. Locker, a fourth year pro out of Washington, is a former first round pick who entered this season as a starter. Locker missed a few games due to injury and rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger took the reins before he too got injured. Now, Locker is looking to close out the season.
Locker has shown glimpses of promise but overall has had a career defined by injuries. When these two teams met last season, Locker went 18-of-24 for 149 yards and three touchdowns. Locker is also an effective scrambler.
Locker is going to have to use that scrambling ability because Tennessee is taking people off the street to play tackle. Because of an injury to rookie tackle Taylor Lewan, the Titans could be getting set to start their sixth different tackle this season. A Jets defensive line coming off a nice week against Minnesota should be licking their chops to get ready against the Titans. Sheldon Richardson will be looking to repeat a strong three-sack Sunday.
There’s not a lot to fear on either side of the ball for Tennessee. Offensive line injured coupled with lack of talent (like Shonn Greene) has combined for one of the worst rushing attacks in the league. Tight end Delaine Walker and wide receiver Kendall Wright are nice players, but can the offensive line keep Lokcer upright to get it to them?
This is the ideal matchup for the Jets offense. The Titans have the worst ranked rushing defense, allowing an average of 141.5 yards per game. The Jets will be running early and often. It’s also a revenge game of sorts for Chris Johnson, who spent his first six seasons in Tennessee. Johnson should get lots of opportunity to stick it to his former team.
Tennessee is a team that plays right into the strengths of the Jets. They can’t stop the run and won’t be able to protect their quarterback against a talented front seven. Football is a game of close results. What you do in close games will define your season. So far, the Jets have lost every close game they’ve been in. It’d be nice to see them pull one out this week.
EDIT: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that kickoff was at 1pm. This has been updated to reflect the correct kickoff time of 4:05pm.