The New York Jets (6-7) enter their Week 15 tilt with the Tennessee Titans (4-9) clinging to life in a tight AFC playoff race that looks like it’s going to go down to the wire and into the final week of the season.
For the Jets to get into the postseason, first and foremost they need to win out and finish 9-7, and even that alone does not guarantee them a playoff berth, depending on what transpires with a few other playoff contenders.
Nevertheless, the Titans have an opportunity to play spoiler on Monday Night Football at LP Field.
The Jets have climbed back into the race thanks to a stifling defense that has been able to weather the loss of Darrelle Revis to a season-ending knee injury. They’ve been playing their best ball of the season in recent weeks.
The defensive line, led by young studs Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, will have an opportunity to feast this week against a banged up Titans offensive line that has lost four starters to injury this season.
Getting pressure on second-year quarterback Jake Locker will be key for Rex Ryan‘s defense. Locker is only completing 38% of his pass attempts when he’s under pressure, compared to 63% when he’s not under pressure.
The blueprint will be the same for the Titans defense, who will try to harass the erratic Mark Sanchez into making mistakes. Both teams will have to rely on their running games to take the pressure off their quarterbacks.
For the Titans, it’ll be a heavy dose of Pro Bowl running back Chris Johnson. For New York, a combination of Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell, with a little bit of Joe McKnight sprinkled in as well.
The Jets have a decided advantage at offensive line, thanks to a starting unit that’s stayed healthy and been improving on a weekly basis over the course of the season. The Jets’ front five needs to set the tone early and often.
On paper, this is a game the Jets should win, and it’s a game they absolutely need to win.
That’s why you can probably expect them to try to control the game with their rushing attack, and force Jake Locker to beat them through the air. That’s a good strategy on paper, but it won’t mean anything if they can’t execute it.
The Jets and Titans kick off at 8:30 pm eastern time on ESPN’s Monday Night Football.