New York Jets: 5 Things to Watch for vs Tennessee Titans

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New York Jets: 5 Things to Watch for vs Tennessee Titans

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Jets will head south to play the Tennessee Titans in a matchup of teams that have surprised many people with their 2-1 starts. Both franchises will be looking to get that all important third win and establish themselves as a potential playoff contender in the AFC.

The Jets are coming off one of their best offensive performances in years, totaling over 500 yards of offense in their Week 3 win over the Buffalo Bills. Geno Smith, Bilal Powell, Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill all had big games, and they will be looking to keep the momentum going.

Defensively, the Jets have one of the top units in the NFL, and they should have the advantage against the Titans’ offense. Quarterback Jake Locker has been improving, but the Jets still feel they will be able to rattle the third year QB and keep the Titans in check.

One of the big stories of the week was the absurd amount of penalties the Jets collected against the Bills, which combined with several other mental mistakes, nearly cost the Jets the game. This is a trend that can’t continue, and Rex Ryan knows it.

This game is pivotal for the Jets’ season, and a win would prove they are not a fluke and are really going to be better than expected. A loss would be a huge step backward, because these are the types of games that good teams have to win.

The Jets know this, and they will come out and attack the Titans on both sides of the ball. The Jets feel they are the better football team, and Sunday will be their chance to prove it.

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Can Jets Finally Protect the Ball?

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The Jets have turned the ball over 8 times already this season, and their turnover differential is -6, good for 30th in the NFL. Smith has done a lot of good things, but he has also thrown six interceptions, and he must cut down on the turnovers.

A big step towards that goal for Smith will be improving his deep ball accuracy, which has been the cause of most of his picks. He has mostly made good decisions, and as long as he continues to do that, doesn’t force the ball and makes accurate throws, the Jets will be fine.

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Must Stop Titans' Run Game

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The Jets have one of the best run defenses in the NFL (arguably the best) and they face another speed back this week in Chris Johnson. The Jets completely shut down C.J. Spiller last week, and they feel good about themselves heading into this matchup.

Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson lead a defensive line that has been dominant this season, and linebackers David Harris and Demario Davis have been excellent as well. By taking away Johnson the Jets will force Locker to beat them, which is exactly what they want.

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Time to Force Turnovers

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The Jets had an outstanding pass rush last week, recording 8 sacks. However, for all of their defensive dominance this season, the Jets have only forced two turnovers. If they can start to get more takeaways it will be a huge boost for the offense.

Locker is not exactly known for his accuracy, and he threw 11 INTs in 11 games last season. He hasn’t turned the ball over yet this season, but the Jets believe that will change Sunday. Expect them to bring heavy pressure in the same manner they did to EJ Manuel, and there is a good chance Locker will put a couple balls up for grabs.

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Will Explosive Plays Continue?

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets’ passing game finally came to life last week, as Holmes had a 69 yard TD reception and Hill reeled in a 51 yard pass for a score. Holmes’ return to form from a foot injury has been a major story for the Jets, and he, Hill and Jeremy Kerley are looking like a solid receiving corps.

Big plays were hugely important in the Jets’ win last week, and they want to continue the trend. The improved deep passing opened up things for the run game and for underneath passes, and it also led to touchdowns. Explosive plays make the Jets a complete offense, and they need that to continue.

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No More Mental Mistakes

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets were penalized 20 times last week, which is so far beyond unacceptable I don’t even know what word describes it. To make matters worse, Smith threw a bad interception when he misread the defense, and Ryan made two very ill-advised challenges.

The mental mistakes nearly cost the game, and in all honesty they should have. These types of errors cannot continue, because the Jets simply aren’t good enough to overcome them. Ryan has been working to discipline the team and get their heads right, and expect a much cleaner performance this week, win or lose.

Greg Sulik is a New York Jets writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @GregSulik or add him to your network on Google

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