|Game 11 Preview: New York Jets (7-3) at Tennessee Titans (10-0)
Nov 21, 2008
This Sunday, the Tennessee Titans return to LP Field to put their perfect 10-0 record on the line against Brett Favre and the hot New York Jets. It's a match up between the best of the AFC South and AFC East which many point to as being a preliminary of what's to come in January during the AFC Playoffs.
The Jets have won five of their last six games and come off a long week after beating the Patriots in overtime last Thursday night. The Titans return home after two weeks on-the-road with a major lead in the division. They are only the 11th team since 1970 to win their first 10 games. Seven went on to play in the Super Bowl with five winning.
When the Jets have the ball
Favre (2,237 passing yds.) comes into this game hot with a 119.5 passer rating over the last two games. He already has 18 TDs on the season. Laveranues Coles (525 rec. yds., 5 TDs) and Jerricho Cotchery (597 rec. yds., 4 TDs) are a solid duo but Favre likes to spread the ball around and rookie TE Dustin Keller is one of his go-to guys on third down. Bubba Franks (hip) will also return to action.
Thomas Jones is leading the AFC in rushing and is fifth overall in the NFL with 854 yards. He comes in with back-to-back 100-yard games. Speedster Leon Washington has added 240 yards of his own along with being another weapon for Favre in the passing game. The Jets OL is solid especially with Nick Mangold and Alan Faneca anchoring the interior. They've only allowed four sacks in the last four games.
Overall, the Jets rank 12th in the NFL with 336.5 ypg. Their 125.1 yards rushing per game average is good for 9th. An impressive 28.9 points per game average places the Jets 2nd in the NFL in that offensive category.
The Titans may get back Kyle Vanden Bosch who has been out the past few weeks with a groin injury. He'll be needed as the Titans front four must find a way to put pressure on Favre. Expect the Titans to rotate in Jacob Ford and Dave Ball as both have been solid in KVB's absence. On the inside, Albert Haynesworth remains the biggest cog in the Titans defensive machine with a team-leading seven sacks. Tony Brown and Jevon Kearse must also do damage so the Titans can allow the back seven to stay in coverage.
The Titans secondary may be without Nick Harper (ankle) and, with Eric King sidelined with a broken forearm, will ask Chris Carr to play opposite Cortland Finnegan if he can't go. Chris Hope and Michael Griffin will be called on to have big games in coverage and Vincent Fuller should see a lot of work at nickel. The Titans are 16-2 since 2006 when they get two or more INTs. Favre leads the AFC with 12.
The Titans are currently ranked 6th in the NFL allowing 281.8 yards on average per game. They are 6th vs. the pass and 10th vs. the run. This most impressive defensive stat is a league-leading 13.1 points allowed per game average. They also have 15 INTs on the season which is 2nd to the Packers.
When the Titans have the ball
Kerry Collins comes off one of the better games of his career while erasing an 11-point halftime deficit to the Jaguars last Sunday. Collins was 13-for-23 for 230 yards with three TDs in the Titans 24-14 win. This puts his passer rating at 111.4 the past two games. On the season, Collins has 1755 yards and 8 TDs. Lately, his two top targets have been Justin Gage (376 rec, yds, 4 TDs) and Bo Scaife (450 rec. yds., 2 TDs). Brandon Jones has also been very active and has a total of 321 yards receiving so far this season. In the last two games, the passing game has averaged 259.5 yards and 2.5 TDs with .05 INTs.
The Titans running game remains the offense's focus and rookie Chris Johnson already has 787 yards and 5 TDs this season which places him fourth in the AFC. LenDale White has 55 fewer attempts in his 470 yards and 11 TDs. Both should get plenty of work and Johnson will also be a target with the screen pass and in the flat. Kevin Mawae, who played for the Jets for eight seasons, anchors a solid OL which has protected Collins well this season giving up only six sacks.
Overall, the Titans offense ranks 20th with 316.3 ypg. Their 132.7 ypg rushing is good enough for 7th. The 24.4 points per game avg. ranks them 9th.
The Jets defense beefed up by acquiring Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace during the offseason. They are a key part of a 3-4 defense with 34 sacks led by Shaun Ellis with seven. David Harris (groin) will be out as will Eric Smith (concussion). Darrelle Revis has four INTs on the season and is joined by veteran Ty Law who could start over rookie Dwight Lowery on Sunday.
The Jets are ranked 15th defensively allowing 321.0 yards per game on avg. They are 28th against the pass and 4th against the run. They are allowing 22.1 points per game on avg. which ranks 16th.
Who has the edge?
The final analysis
On paper, this is an outstanding matchup because you have the Jets with 34 sacks and the Titans allowing only six. You have the Jets fourth-ranked run defense vs. the Titans seventh-placed running game. There is the Jets second-ranked scoring average vs. the Titans first-place scoring defense. It's the makings for the top NFL game of Week 12.
For me, it'll boil down to two matchups: Hayesworth/Brown vs. Mangold/Faneca and Jenkins vs. Mawae/Eugene Amano. If the Titans are going to slow down Favre from being successful in the short passing game, pressure must come from the middle. Same for slowing the ground attack. Haynesworth and Brown have to get a push and control the line of scrimmage. On the other sides of the ball, Mawae and Amano can't allow Jenkins to blow up plays as the Titans will want to establish the ground game and keep the ball out of the hands of Favre.
Many of the national media talking heads think this is the game where the Titans find their first loss. But I expect the confident Titans to feed off the intensity the fans will bring Sunday and look to make a statement to the unbelievers. I see another physical, close game with a superior Titans defense making the difference. Look for the home team to give Favre another reason to retire at the end of the season as the Titans go to 11-0 on a late Bironas field goal.
Prediction: Titans 26 - Jets 23