The New York Jets have turned a few heads with their early season victories over the Tampa Bay Bucs and Buffalo Bills. They entered the season with low expectations that were exaggerated by many who had them pegged as a 2-4 win team. A closer look at the roster revealed a defense that was likely to be among the league’s best, a coach who has repeatedly got the most out of his talent and an offense that could have the potential for a few breakthrough performances. The Jets might not have projected to a playoff team but they certainly didn’t project to be among the league’s worst teams.
Despite the wins over Tampa and Buffalo being encouraging, neither are really banner wins for this team to hang their hat on. The Bucs are 0-3 and in complete disarray and Buffalo had a rookie quarterback making his first road start. This week, the Jets have a chance to make a bit of a statement by going on the road and beating a tough Tennessee Titans team who has surprised early with their 2-1 start. The Titans are a physical, defense first team that is built in a somewhat similar mold to the Jets. While few would call the Titans one of the NFL’s elite, a win in Tennessee would a great stepping stone for the Jets and particularly rookie quarterback Geno Smith.
This game is a nice ramp up to the Jets traveling to Atlanta for Monday Night Football next week as well. The Falcons generally are considered a Super Bowl contender and Atlanta is a notably hostile environment, nevermind the bright lights of Monday Night. Nobody will expect the Jets to win that game, regardless of what happens this Sunday, but a win should help build confidence for this team and their young quarterback on the road.
If the Jets fancy themselves a wild-card contender, this is the type of game they have to win. Tennessee should be in the playoff mix all season and you need Conference victories and tie-breakers over teams you are competing for one of those two spots with. Are the Jets ready to get their first “surprise” win of the season? Let’s crack into the 12 Pack…
1. Bilal Powell will receive 20 carries but have much tougher sledding than he did against Buffalo, only finishing with 80 yards rushing and another 25 receiving. He will also score his second touchdown of the season.
2. Geno Smith will go roughly 20/33 for 250 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He will rush for 30 yards and be sacked twice.
3. The Jets defensive line will beat up on a somewhat shaky Titans offensive line (Rob Turner at Center!), keeping Chris Johnson under 60 yards rushing and sacking Jake Locker three times.
4. Locker will hurt the Jets with a few key scrambles and finish with 40 yards rushing and some big first down conversions.
5. Nate Washington will lead TItans receivers with 5 receptions for 70 yards.
6. Justin Hunter will make a big play down the field in the passing game, building off his momentum from last week’s game winning catch.
7. Santonio Holmes will follow up last week’s big performance with 4 receptions for 68 yards, including a few key third down conversions.
8. Kellen Winslow Jr will get back into the mix, finishing with 5 receptions for 55 yards.
9. Quinton Coples will record his first sack of the season. Sheldon Richardson will record another sack.
10. Darrin Walls will play very well in his first start and have a couple of big pass breakups.
11. Antonio Cromartie will record his first interception of the season. Jake Locker will complete a little over 50% of his passes.
12. The Jets will cover (+3.5) and squeak out a 14-13 win, in a low scoring defensively dominated battle.