The Titans host the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Jets are 6-7 and still alive for a playoff spot if they win their last three games, so it's not two teams with nothing to play for. New York is coming off a 17-10 road win in Jacksonville last week where all of their points came in the second half.
After the jump, what I saw from the Jets last week and the others of their games I've managed to sit through.
1. The Jets are a bad offense. Derek Cox played, but Aaron Ross was out and Rashean Mathis is now on IR, yet no Jets player had more than 4 receptions or 37 receiving yards. Two of their scoring drives started in Jacksonville territory, and the other one started at their 43. They struggled to break the 50 on their drives that didn't start with great field position.
2. It all starts at the quarterback position. Mark Sanchez interposes moments of semi-competence with some truly dreadful play. The Jets try to hide them if they can and not put him in obvious passing situations. One of the reasons no receiver had more than four catches was Sanchez only attempted 19 passes, because he didn't need to attempt more than 19 passes. Get the Jets down two scores, and it's possible for Sanchez to look silly. He's not bad at quick slants.
3. Last week, the Jets split carries at running back between Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell. Earlier this season, I thought Greene probably surpassed Michael Turner as the worst start running back in the NFL, but I think he's been running better as of late. He's still primarily a between the tackles runner without much burst or speed, but hasn't looked quite as slow and is a little more elusive than I thought he was. Bilal Powell is the other back. I don't have anything interesting to say about him. He's another downhill runner who's not terrible. The touchdown drive that made it 17-3 was seven Powell runs, six of them listed in the Gamebook as up the middle.
4. A fully-healthy Jets receiving corps was one of the worst in the league. Santonio Holmes, who's good when not being too petulant, is out for the year. Stephen Hill, a big physical rookie, is doubtful. Jeremy Kerley is a glorified slot guy, more or less. Recent re-acquisition Braylon Edwards is a big body who can catch jump balls. Chaz Schillens and Mardy Gilyard? Be serious. The Dolphins have a better receiving corps than what the Titans will face Monday night. Tight end Dustin Keller is also doubtful (read won't play). Even against a Titans secondary that is fully capable of being terrible, I'm not too concerned.
5. The offensive line? Eh. Center Nick Mangold was great a couple years ago, not this year. Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson is generally okay, though Jason Babin did beat him last week with the outside rush for a fumble-sack. Right guard Brandon Moore is capable of decent play. The other guys aren't better than what the Titans are rolling out there right now. It should actually make for a decent matchup against a mostly unimpressive Titans defensive line that has played better lately. Derrick Morgan on Howard is your matchup to watch.
6. The defense? I'd describe it as mostly solid, but without a game-changing player. Darrelle Revis was the player around whom everything revolved, and he's out for the year. The best player may be defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson. Rookie end Quinton Coples, whom I thought might be a Titans draft target, is also having a nice season. The Jets normally play with a 3-man line but had a fourth man with his hand in the dirt a lot against the Jaguars last week. It's real easy for me to see the makeshift Titans line struggling with the power of the Jets defensive line.
7. I don't want to say the linebackers are all Just A Guys, but I'm also not seeing much special. If you can do a good job blocking, you can get some yards. The Titans right now can't. Maybe it's just playing against the Jaguars, but I'm struggling to say anything interesting about David Harris, Bart Scott, Calvin Pace, or Bryan Thomas. Like most 3-4 teams, I think they can manage to set the edge against the Titans and prevent CJ from getting big plays that way.
8. Antonio Cromartie has sort of played the Revis role, but he's not the same caliber of player (who is). Still, he's an athletic corner with good size and good speed. Once again, it's hard to talk about the Titans wide receivers against the opposing corners, just because I'm not sure what we're going to get. Britt could be shut out or could have 7 catches for 100 yards and 2 scores and it wouldn't shock me.
9. Although he's not a starter, safety Eric Smith plays some (33 snaps, 46% last week) and is terrible. The Jaguars touchdown came when he got completely turned around off a block on an outside run and not only failed to take out Montell Owens but prevented two of his teammates from making the play. I remember him most fondly for blowing contain incredibly badly on Tim Tebow's touchdown run on Thursday Night Football last year. The actual starting safeties are Laron Landry and Yeremiah Bell. Neither runs particularly well, I don't think, and the Titans could have success targeting them in coverage or going over the top.
On the whole, I'd say the Jets are a very mediocre team. They're not bad on defense, all things considered, but at the same time I wouldn't say they're a great defense either. The pass offense tends to a thoroughgoing disaster, hamstring by a whole host of interlocking factors, while the run game ranges from competent to bad. I think on the whole the Titans are more a bad team than a good one. The Jets are a bit better of a team than the Titans, but playing on the road I'd rate this one as a push. The Titans are favored by 1.5 points, which is too much in my book. This is definitely a game either team can win, but my guess is the Titans lose a low-scoring affair.