Jets QB Sam Darnold will likely miss Week 10 vs. Buffalo with a foot strain. Darnold and coach Todd Bowles talk about the injury on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018.
Andy Vasquez, Staff Writer, @andy_vasquez
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Jets are in the grips of their longest losing streak of the Todd Bowles era. And they’re trying to end their five-game skid against a Titans team that has everything to play for as they teeter on the edge of playoff contention.
Will the Jets get a much-needed win, or will it be more of the same? Here’s how the Jets (3-8) and Titans (5-6) match up in Week 13.
Jets at Titans
- Nissan Stadium
- Sunday, 4:05 p.m.
- TV: CBS
- Line: Titans by 8
What’s at stake
Jets: They went 0-for-November and will be looking for their first win in 49 days. This is already the Jets’ longest losing streak since 2014, when they lost eight straight. Another loss would ensure their fifth losing season in the last seven years and mathematically eliminate them from the playoffs for the eighth straight season — but even if the Jets win out, they’re probably not going to the playoffs. Resignation has set in in the locker room, and a win could energize this team and set them up for a strong finish to the season. A loss will only deepen the despair in the locker room, and somehow make Todd Bowles’ seat even hotter. But it will help the Jets’ chances of getting a high pick. So, there’s that.
Titans: This game will likely make or break their season. The Titans are only a game out of the final playoff spot in the AFC. A win puts them in firm position to contend in the final four weeks. A loss likely ruins those chances. There’s no way to know how the Titans will play, because they’ve had a split personality this season. They have impressive wins over the Cowboys, Eagles and Patriots. But they’ve also lost to the Bills and been blown out in their last two games by the Texans and Colts. With the reeling Jets coming to town, the Titans have the perfect opportunity to get things back on track. But there’s no guarantee they will take it.
Jets offensive line versus Titans defensive line: One of the reasons the Jets may be leery to put Sam Darnold out there (he’s listed as questionable as he recovers from a foot injury) is the offensive line. With starting left guard James Carpenter out for the season, the Jets have had to patch things together with Spencer Long, usually the starting center likely starting at left guard, and backup Jonotthan Harrison playing center. That’s not an ideal situation against a strong Titans defensive line, led by. If the Jets’ offensive line holds up, they should be able to stay in this game — the Titans have surrendered an average of 36 points in their last two games. But if they struggle to protect the quarterback, whoever it is, it could be a very long game.
How they’ll win
Jets: They need to clean up the communication issues on defense to have any chance. If Marcus Mariota is running wild on them, and getting outside of containment, this could turn into a very ugly game very quickly. But if the “Good” Jets defense shows up and stops the run and frustrates the Titans early, they should be able to stay in this game. The Jets’ offense showed some promise with some big plays against the Patriots. And if they can protect the quarterback — Darnold or McCown, whoever it is — the Jets could have a long-overdue breakout offensive performance. The Jets haven’t played a complete game in months, but if they do it against the struggling Titans they can win.
Titans: This team is a unique challenge because it has a few ways to effectively run the ball. Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis are both strong, effective backs. And Mariota is one of the better dual-threat quarterbacks in football. The Jets’ run defense has been atrocious in recent weeks, allowing 212 yards to the Bills and 215 to the Patriots. If the Titans can effectively run the ball, it will open up the play action-pass and a whole new set of options for Mariota. And if they can put early pressure on the quarterback, the Jets’ offense will likely have a hard time generating much of anything.
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