#274 New York Jetsvs.#273 Tennessee Titans
Saturday, August 8 2017, at 7:30pm EDT
Written by Chris Kubala
Tennessee Titans (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U) vs. New York Jets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS, 0-0 O/U)
NFL: Saturday, August 12, 2017, MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, 7:30 pm ET
Spread: Tennessee -2.5, Over/Under: 37
It’s the first full week of preseason action in the NFL and it brings us a second game from the Garden State. The Tennessee Titans look to take the next step forward as they face the New York Jets Saturday night. Tennessee finished second in the AFC South last season and narrowly missed a playoff spot last year. New York was stuck in the basement of the AFC East as they regressed majorly last season after a promising 2015. The Titans have a 23-19-1 edge in the all-time regular season series though the Jets took the last two, including a 30-8 win on December 13, 2015 in the most recent meeting.
Tennessee went 3-1 in the preseason last year but stumbled out of the gate in the regular season, losing three of their first four games. The Titans recovered to win four of their final five to end up 9-7, tied with the Texans atop the AFC South: going 2-4 in the division is what kept them out of the playoffs. Of course, had Marcus Mariota (276 of 451, 3426 yards, 26 TD, 9 INT, 349 rushing yards, two TD) been healthy in the final two games, things may have been different. If he can play all 16 games this season, the Titans are in good shape to make the postseason for the first time since 2008. The run game is in good hands with the tandem of DeMarco Murray (293 carries, 1287 yards, 4 TD, 53 catches, 377 yards, 3 TD) and Derrick Henry (110 carries, 490 yards, TD, 13 grabs, 137 yards) doing the heavy lifting.
The Titans needed to bolster their receiving corps and they did so via the draft and free agency. In the draft, Tennessee picked Corey Davis in the first round along with Taywan Taylor in the third round. The team also added tight end Jonnu Smith with a third round selection, which will provide another big target over the middle when he sees the field. Via free agency, the Titans made a big move signing Eric Decker after the Jets cut him. He dealt with injuries last season but scored double digit touchdowns in three of the four seasons prior to 2016. The trio of Decker, Davis and Taylor, coupled with the returning Rishard Matthews (65 grabs, 945 yards, 9 TD) along with Tajae Sharpe (41 receptions, 522 yards, 2 TD) give the team some depth at the skill positions. Reliable veteran Delanie Walker (65 catches, 800 yards, 7 TD) is a solid target, especially in the red zone. The big additions on the defensive side of the ball were the signing of corner Logan Ryan from New England plus safety Johnathan Cyprien from Jacksonville in free agency along with the drafting in the second round of Adoree’ Jackson. Jackson will be a major factor on special teams as well. Addressing the major need to overhaul the secondary was critical for the Titans to have success in 2017.
New York was 1-3 in the preseason last year and a pair of four game skids doomed them to finish 5-11. The Jets were 3-5 at the midway point before losing six of their seven: a meaningless week 17 win over Buffalo didn’t cool the seat for coach Todd Bowles. The problem for Bowles is that he’s dealing with an extremely barren cupboard of talent on the offensive side of the ball. Gone from last season are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Brandon Marshall, Eric Decker, Geno Smith, Nick Mangold, Bruno Giacomini and Ryan Clady. Throw in Darrelle Revis, David Harris, Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor gone from the defense and you need a program to figure out who’s left.
Here’s what we know: the quarterback position will be a three-way battle between grizzled veteran Josh McCown, former second-round pick Christian Hackenberg and former fourth-round pick Bryce Petty. Whoever is lucky (or not so lucky) to win the job has the aging Matt Forte (218 carries, 813 yards, 7 TD) and Bilal Powell (131 carries, 722 yards, 3 TD, 58 catches, 388 yards, 2 TD) in the backfield. When it comes to wide receivers, suffice it to say that you could be on the depth chart at this point: Quincy Enunwa (58 grabs, 857 yards, 4 TD) is the #1 receiver by default, if he’s healthy. He suffered a neck injury in the team’s scrimmage over the weekend and the severity isn’t known at the moment. The rest of the receiving group is hardly inspiring: Robby Anderson had off-field issues in the offseason, which means rookies ArDarius Stewart, Chad Hansen and Jordan Leggett will be looked at to contribute. As for the rest of things for the Jets, let’s just say that we’ve seen train wrecks that are prettier. Morris Claiborne will not make anyone forget about Revis: the drafting of Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye and Jeremy Clark will help lead the overhaul of what was a weak secondary but the front seven still has major issues as well.
New York Jets
There’s not a lot to like about the Jets at this point in time: their best bet is to be absolutely dismal this season in an effort to garner a high pick in the 2018 draft so they can pick up a potential franchise quarterback. There’s not much that you can hang your hat on if you’re looking for positives. Matt Cassel, the backup for Tennessee, is likely better than any quarterback that the Jets have battling for their starting role. The additional talent that the Titans picked up in the draft, who will be getting their first NFL game action, is more than enough to lead Tennessee to a win here.
Bowles has to wonder what he’s gotten himself into with the Jets. He took the team to a 10-6 mark in 2015 and narrowly missed the playoffs. Last season, the team was ravaged by injuries and mediocre play on both sides of the ball, leading to a major step back in the standings. Now, with the purge on both sides of the ball of veterans, most of whom were productive, though in some instances overpaid, the team looks more like a team you’d have from a pickup game in your neighborhood as opposed to an NFL team. On the flip side, the Titans are on the upswing and if Mariota can stay upright all season long, they have a very good shot at the postseason.
The under is 4-1 in the Titans last 5 vs. AFC opponents and 8-2-1 in their last 11 games on Saturday. New York has seen the under go 4-1 in their last five Saturday contests and 5-2 in their last seven overall. Given the lack of talent on the Jets’ offensive side of the ball, even if the Titans pile up some points, this one seems likely to fall under the total here.
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Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. He keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college, the NHL, the NBA and college basketball and MLB.