After almost completely falling off the wagon, the Jets have revived their playoff hopes over the last two weeks. It still hasn’t looked pretty, but a 7-6 win over Arizona and a 17-10 win over the now 2-12 Jaguars have the Jets at 6-7, two and a half games back of the final wild card spot in the AFC with three to play.
As bad as the Jets have been this season, their outside chance at the postseason is aided by their remaining schedule of equally weak opponents, including the Bills and the Chargers. Oh, and let’s not forget, they have to get past the struggling Titans tonight on Monday Night Football.
With a defense ranked 26th against the pass and 24th against the run, the Titans (4-9), which are simply in spoiler mode at this point in the season, should give the struggling Jets offense some opportunities to score; that is, if the Jets can hold onto the ball. New York has been plagued by turnovers this season, as Mark Sanchez has thrown 13 INTs to just 12 TDs this season and has coughed up eight fumbles as well.
Of course, the quarterback position hasn’t looked much better on the opposing sideline. Starter Jake Locker has thrown as many touchdowns and interceptions (9) and is only completing 57.5% of his throws this season, which is still 2% higher than Sanchez.
The game will likely come down to which team can impose their will and their running game on the other. The Jets bring in the 13th ranked running game in the league and are a squad that is much more successful when they don’t have to rely on Sanchez to produce points.
Likewise, the Titans need to establish the ground game with Chris Johnson in order to win games. Johnson has been the focal point of the offense during his five years in Tennessee, each of which he has rushed for more than 1,000 yards, but he is even more of the focus now without much of a passing game to help out. Johnson has had another fine season, with 1037 yards and a 4.7 average per carry, but has been limited in recent weeks due to opponents committing to stopping him, which the Jets will likely do as well tonight.
It should be a hard-fought, low scoring contest; the kind of game that the Jets and coach Rex Ryan love. However, Ryan, who is known for his guarantees that rarely come to fruition, isn’t going so far as to say a playoff spot is 100% at this point.
“I’m not going to guarantee a playoff spot,” Ryan said via ESPN.com. “I think part of that is, look, the fact that we’re one game under .500, I think you’re probably not in the playoff conversation.”
Normally, I hate when coaches or players make such guarantees, but in Ryan’s case, it’s almost a sign of giving up that he is not confident enough to make one. With all the scrutiny and turmoil surrounding the Jets, I don’t see them willing themselves to stop Johnson and the Titans tonight. I like Tennessee to cover -1 points tonight and close the book on this sad lot of Jets once and for all this season.