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PREVIEW: NY Jets at the Tennessee Titans
Jets fans stricken with an acute and rarely curable case of "run the table-itus"
Certain things happen every year around the Holiday Season:
Commercials featuring high-end luxury automobiles audaciously festooned with over-sized red bows on their silver roof parked in affluent freshly paved suburban driveways, leaving most working stiffs to ponder whether people actually receive Mercedes, Jaguars and Audis as Christmas Gifts.
Burl Ives in the form of a dapper and loquacious snowman sliding through the evergreen dotted hills of the North Pole with his casual cool, taking us on the ultimate underdog journey of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
Newcomers to the joy of eggnog learning the hard way that just a little bit of its silky, rum-soaked cinnamon-sprinkled goodness goes a long way.
.......and of course fans of mediocre, maladjusted football teams across the country become convinced that their team will undoubtedly "run the table" and in doing so earn a coveted Playoff Spot.
Yes, Gotham City is the latest known sighting of "run the table-itus", that all-too-common affliction which convinces otherwise sane, rationale people that their extremely ordinary, undistinguished group of gridiron warriors will string together a winning steak that would make the 2007 New England Patriots blush, citing a scheduled bejeweled with "lesser" teams. Jet Players have contracted a fairly severe case as well but in the true spirit of NFL subterfuge, they will leave it off of this week's Injury Report.
This Monday, the Jets will be seeking their 3rd straight victory against a Titans Team that has dropped 3 straight. Plagued by uneven play, the Titans inability to get a consistent pass rush has contributed to their lowly pass defense, which is ranked 26th in the NFL. On the offensive side of the ball they've been forced to endure the growing pains of Jake Locker, a young QB who does much of his damage outside the pocket. Locker's occasional recklessness with the football (9 interceptions and 4 fumbles) has certainly hurt the Titans this season however. Chris Johnson has checked out of the witness protection program for Tennessee, already having rushed for 1,037 yards, a mere 10 yards shy of last year's season total. The former East Carolina University workhorse will have to do some damage between the tackles if the Titans are to prevail on Monday.
The Jets come into this contest with a 3-3 road record, highlighted by a thrilling overtime decision in Miami back in late September, a victory which serves as their lone representitive in the "quality road win" category. Losses at New England, Pittsburgh and Seattle, three of the League's perennial bone yards, proves that road wins against the NFL's blue bloods have been painfully hard to come by for this group.
By and large, the Jets have shown some recent signs of life, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. The team has had great success in shutting down their opponent's passing game, ranking 3rd in the NFL in that department. Stopping the run has inexplicably been their downfall this season however, and faced with the prospect of having to contain Chris Johnson in his own backyard could spell trouble for the visitors.
Mark Sanchez comes into Monday Night looking to improve on a 55% pass completion percentage with a mere dozen TD passes to go along with his 13 picks for the season. A steady dose of the underrated Shonn Greene could help Sanchez as he looks for his favorite targets Jeremy Kerley and Dustin Keller down field, and with the return of old friend Braylon Edwards at wideout, the Jets are hoping to prove their new signee wrong by showing him and the rest of the football world that they aren't "idiots" for orchestrating the return of Number 17 in green.
Look for both teams to try and control time of possession while keeping things as simple as possible for their struggling Quarterbacks. The short week nestled late in the season favors the home team, and in the grander scheme the NFL has a way of exposing those teams who attempt to undercut the Velvet Rope that keeps impostors from entering the NFL Playoff Club.
The Jets have played 13 Games. They have won 6 of them. They lack play makers on the outside. They suffer from sub-par QB play in a League now ruled by QB play. They are an error prone team that has exhausted their margin of error.
In their bid to run the table in Music City this Monday Night, look for Gang Green to accidentally sink the 8-Ball.
Titans 16 Jets 13