Snapping a five-game losing streak seems as hopeless for the Jets as does their rookie QB starting Sunday. Sam Darnold practiced this week for the first time since straining his right foot, causing him to miss two games.
That would be a welcomed return for a Jets team coming off another loss (27-13 to NE) where backup Josh McCown could not outlast Tom Brady. Isaiah Crowell was held to just 30 yards on six carries which continues to be an issue.
This is a pretty big number for a team that’s been crushed in the past two games they’ve played. But it’s also not often you will find an offense more inconsistent and at times inept than the Titans.
Enter the Jets.
Darnold’s right foot remains the key focus on the injury report this week. Darnold was a limited participant as was McCown (back/right hand), but the latter will definitely be a go for Sunday.
Even with the possible return of Darnold, it won’t be enough. This offense has been so bad on the ground they haven’t hit 100 yards in any of their five consecutive losses. The accuracy of Mariota aside, they have two healthy RBs they can rely on to chip away at the Jets defense.
There’s also the matter of desperation. The Titans have shown more of an ability to put up points over their last five games than the Jets. With a loss the season is essentially over for Tennessee. Meanwhile NY passed that threshold weeks ago with nothing to play for at this point.
Expect the Titans to wear down the Jets defense, keep the Jets away from a big game on the ground, and win this football game by more than eight points.
The lack of running game might be more of a concern this week than inconsistent QB play. In Jets victories they have run the ball over 30 times. Whoever starts under center will need the same productivity from Quincy Enunwa as the team got last week (four grabs for 73 yards) despite the losing effort.
While the offense has taken a stumble over the past two weeks (27 combined points) the defense has been noticeably worse. Tennessee was blown out for the second consecutive week, 34-17 to HOU, a week after getting hammered by the Colts by 28 points.
The good news is the Jets just gave up 200+ yards rushing last weekend, but so did the Titans. The Texans steamrolled their defense for 281 yards. This game might come down to which team executes the run game better.
The Titans are watching Marcus Mariota have one of the most accurate seasons in team history. There are just three players (Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Kirk Cousins) with a higher percentage of completed passes in the NFL.
Mariota hit the injury report this week with an abdomen injury but was a full participant. The bigger issue is CB Malcolm Butler (concussion), who was limited in practice and is in serious doubt for this weekend. Butler is still in the concussion protocol and saw a neurologist Thursday.
That said, you have to look at how bad the Jets have been struggling this year, specifically in over the past two weeks. Despite suffering the same fate, the Titans faced better talent.
It should give you hope here that the Titans are able to control the football with a ball control passing attack and use their RBs often in the under passing game as well.
The Jets just don’t have enough talent at this point on defense to overcome their inconsistencies on offense. The Titans don’t need to put up a lot of points to beat the Jets and the Jets will struggle to get more than 14.
It’s not even close at this point who has life left in their season, and who is playing for a high spot in the upcoming NFL draft.
Even if the Titans don’t get the ball first you have an unlikely chance of Darnold – in his first drive back in weeks – or backup McCown leading an opening drive for a TD.
The Titans will get on the board first. It’s not even a matter of a flip of the coin, the confidence should be extremely high in the Jets needing a quarter or two to adjust to the Titans game plan.
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