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What I think the Titans are thinking

What I think they should be thinking at the headquarters of the Tennessee Titans this afternoon :

ten.gifWe can play with a good team for a half. We showed that much Sunday in Indianapolis. If we could strike up a deal for half wins that would help us, but such a change in the league’s format is unlikely. Are the coaches telling us we are as good as the first half or are they telling us we are as bad as the second half? No matter what they say, we should believe the latter. There was a big wrestling match for blame after the game. Mike Munchak tried to take the blame for Jake Locker’s pick-6 and for the first-and-10 sneak near game’s end. Locker said he needs to be able to handle the situations. Both plays were terrible and symbolic and made it look like we didn’t know what we are doing. Will we be determined to look like we know what we are doing on Monday night against the New York Jets? Or will we let the spotlight come to town and highlight our warts ?

> http://espn.go.com/b...-are-thinking-9

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Red-zone offense remains cold for Titans

On his first red-zone play of the game, Titans quarterback Jake Locker dropped back quickly and lofted a perfect 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook.From that point on, however, the red zone became the dead zone in a 27-23 loss to the Colts on Sunday.The Titans couldn’t score touchdowns on either of their final two red-zone possessions, and also failed to score one on a drive that reached the Indianapolis 22.It’s become a familiar pattern for the Titans, who’ve managed only one offensive touchdown in each of their last three games — going 2-for-7 in the red zone.“We just couldn’t finish,” tackle Michael Roos said. “We should have had 35 points. Our goal is to get seven points every time down there. We should have and we just didn’t. It’s the tale of our season. We just couldn’t finish.”

The Titans went into the game ranked 20th in the NFL in red-zone scoring. Their 1-for-3 showing against the Colts dropped them below 50 percent in that department.It’s a far different situation than last season, when the Titans finished with the NFL’s fifth-best red-zone offense, scoring touchdowns at a nearly 60 percent clip from inside the opponent’s 20.Why the drastic drop from 2011 to 2012 ? The biggest reason is likely the change in quarterbacks, as veteran Matt Hasselbeck was a wizard in the red zone. He completed more than 60 percent of his passes in the red zone, threw for 13 touchdowns, no interceptions and posted a passer rating of 109.6.Locker, in his first season as a starter, had a good touchdown-to-interception ratio in the red zone — four TDs, no picks — but he’s also only 10-of-26 passing.

Quick decision-making and accurate passing become even more important in the red zone, when the field shrinks and opposing defenses tend to ramp up the pressure.“Obviously you get less space to deal with down there,” Roos said. “However you do things, it just becomes a little more compact and guys have to be more precise in what they’re doing — whether it’s route running or us blocking, especially if a team is sending a blitz. You have a little less time and you don’t have that space.”One of the red-zone failures against the Colts came just before halftime, when the Titans — by scoring a touchdown — could have taken a three-possession lead. But after driving to the Indianapolis 13, the next three plays were an incompletion to Kendall Wright, a three-yard pass to Jared Cook and a Locker sack.The Titans settled for a field goal and a 20-7 lead at halftime.

“That’s been one of the problems we’ve been having, getting down in the red zone and then getting just three points,” running back Chris Johnson said. “Anytime a defense can stop you from getting seven points, they’re holding on.”A poor Johnson run was a big part of the problem on the final red-zone possession for the Titans. They had marched 75 yards in 12 plays, arriving at the Indianapolis 5 early in the fourth quarter.But on first down, Johnson was tackled in the backfield for a five-yard loss. Locker got two yards back on a scramble, but Fernando Velasco was then called for a false start and Locker couldn’t connect with Nate Washington on third-and-goal from the 7.Again, the Titans settled for the field goal, taking a 23-21 lead that would only last as long as the next Colts’ drive.

“We had the ball for 15, 16 plays,” coach Mike Munchak said. “It’s a great drive and we got the lead back … but again, we had to settle for a field goal. Getting a touchdown there would have made a big difference.”If those kinds of comments sound familiar, they should.Two weeks ago against the Jaguars, the Titans drove inside the 20 early in the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. They settled for a field goal and never regained the advantage.Last week against the Texans, the Titans — trailing by two scores — drove to the Houston 7 early in the fourth quarter. They fumbled the ball away on fourth down.“We get so close — even last week when we were trying to come back — and we just can’t get in the end zone,” Roos said. “I’m sure it’s some of those tiny little things here and there. But guys have to figure it out and play better.”

> http://www.dnj.com/a...?nclick_check=1

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Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook will miss the remainder of the season with a torn rotator cuff, coach Mike Munchak announced during his Monday press conference.Cook suffered the injury during Sunday's loss to the Indianapolis Colts.

The four-year pro has 44 receptions for 523 yards and four touchdowns through 13 games this season, which ranks him second on the team in receptions and third in yards.He has amassed 1,717 yards and eight scores on 131 receptions over 59 career games after Tennessee selected him in the third round of the 2009 draft.

The 4-9 Titans are in the midst of a three-game losing streak and currently sit in third place in the AFC South.

> http://www.woai.com/...g.cspx?rss=1781

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Titans send Jared Cook to IR

Tennessee Titans tight end Jared Cook was placed on injured reserve Monday, ending Cook's season. Cook was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, following Tennessee's loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 14. Cook suffered the injury in the third quarter, and was unable to return to the game. Cook appeared in all 13 of Tennessee's games until the injury. Cook was targeted 72 times and caught 44 passes for 523 yards, and a career-high four touchdowns. The 13 games played will mark the fewest amount Cook has played in a given season, as the former South Carolina Gamecock's previous career low in games played was 14.

> http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/355632

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Bell: We've got something to prove

In their last prime-time appearance, the Jets became a national laughingstock, committing five turnovers and allowing 475 total yards in a 49-19 loss to the Patriots.

Who could forget the Thanksgiving Night Massacre ?

The Jets get another crack at it with a date on Monday Night Football, a road game against the Titans. This time, S Yeremiah Bell expects a different outcome.

"We were embarrassed the last time we were on national TV and we feel like we've got something to prove," he said Monday in a quiet Jets locker room. "We didn't play good football the first time. This time around, it's going to be different. I think are guys are focused on that."

The level of competition will be a big drop off. The Titans (4-9) have dropped three straight and they're ranked 23rd and 26th in total offense and defense, respectively.

> http://espn.go.com/b...ething-to-prove

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Jets need a WR, Braylon is available

Could Braylon Edwards return to the Jets to revive their depleted wide receiver corps ?

The Jets may need a wide receiver to replace injured rookie Stephen Hill and a familiar face became available Monday -- Braylon Edwards, who was waived from the Seahawks' injured reserve.

Reunion ?

It would seem unlikely, considering Edwards last week referred to the Jets' front office as "idiots" for the way it has treated QB Mark Sanchez. Then again, stranger reunions have occurred in the NFL.The Jets are strongly considering Edwards, sources said. They can acquire him by submitting a waiver claim or signing him as a free agent if he clears waivers. Considering the paucity of available receivers, the Jets appear willing to try a three-game rental.Edwards played well for the Jets in 2009 and 2010, developing a rapport with Sanchez. Since then, he has only 23 receptions and one touchdown. Edwards, slowed by a knee injury, played for the 49ers in 2011, the Seahawks this season. He was waived/injured last week after ripping the Jets on Twitter; his rights reverted to the Seahawks."Don't blame Sanchez. I played there. Blame the idiots calling shots," Edwards tweeted after Sanchez was benched against the Cardinals. He apologized in a tweet, saying it was an "emotional" outburst.

Now the Jets are down to only two healthy receivers that began the season on their roster -- Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley. Hill sprained his knee Sunday and is out indefinitely. Clyde Gates still is recovering from a concussion. They also have Mardy Gilyard, whom they recently signed off the street.Rex Ryan was asked Monday if they might consider Edwards. "You guys know what I've always said about Braylon in the past, so you know how I feel about him," Ryan said. "But right now, I think we'll just focus on the guys we have." Ryan noted that Edwards was still on the Seahawks' IR list. But a few hours later, he was waived.

Interestingly, CBS Sports reported Sunday that the Jets had expressed an interest in trading for Edwards before the trading deadline in Week 8. That came in the aftermath of Santonio Holmes' season-ending injury.On Monday, the Jets signed WR Titus Ryan to the practice squad, along with LB JoJo Dickson. They released WR Eddie McGee and DT Matt Hardison.They also worked out three free-agent receivers, according to a source -- Emmanuel Arnceneaux, Ramon Radway and Ryan.

> http://espn.go.com/b...on-is-available

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Jets back in playoff picture

Mike DeVito can relate to Jets fans now caught up in the roller coaster of emotion created by two straight wins and talk of a possible playoff run.

Yes, not even three weeks after the Jets' situation seemed hopeless -- see: butt fumble -- their back-to-back wins over NFL bottom-dwellers Arizona and Jacksonville have them at 6-7 and still alive for the postseason. The Jets are one game behind the Steelers and Bengals in the race for the second wild-card spot. With three games remaining against teams with losing records --the Titans (4-9), Chargers (5-8) and Bills (5-8) -- there's a decent chance of running the table and . . . dare we say it ? . . . playing into January.


"Being here in New York for six years, it's something I find myself doing," the veteran defensive end said. "Watching other teams, it's like, 'Oh, one loss, it's the end of the world . . . One win, they're gonna win everything.' It's kind of the way the atmosphere is around here." Good thing for DeVito he doesn't channel those emotions into his own team, or he might drive himself nuts. In fact, the Jets are downplaying any talk about getting to the playoffs, even though things went as well as they could have hoped Sunday. They not only beat the Jaguars, 17-10, but Cincinnati and Pittsburgh lost and fell to 7-6. The Colts (9-4) need one win to clinch the first wild-card spot.

There's still a lot of season left and plenty of time for things to go wrong. Chances are the Jets won't get to January, even if they do win out. But really, who could ever have imagined the idea of a playoff run after the Jets' 49-19 embarrassment against the Patriots on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium ? The take-away moment from that game was Mark Sanchez running into right guard Brandon Moore's backside and fumbling the ball, part of a 52-second meltdown in which the Patriots scored three touchdowns to blow open the game in a 35-point second quarter. No matter that the Jets have just barely beaten two of the worst teams in the league. And questions persist about Sanchez's long-term future with the Jets. But this is the NFL, where fortunes can turn almost instantly. And often do, leading to wild swings of emotion for those who follow it.

Former Giants and Jets coach Bill Parcells had the perfect phrase to describe the mind-set of fans around these parts. It's worth recalling the phrase, especially at a time like this: "In New York, it's euphoria or disaster." It was true when he first said it in 1985, and it still applies today. Maybe even more so now.Rex Ryan contributed to that dynamic with his frequent guarantees in his first three seasons on the job, but with his team now closing in on .500 for the first time since they beat the Colts on Oct. 14 to move to 3-3, Ryan poured cold water on any playoff talk. "I'm not going to guarantee a playoff spot, if that's what you mean," he said. "The fact that we're one game under .500, I think you're probably not in the playoff conversation. We just need to get our head down and keep winning games. We know the only way we can affect it is to win our games, and then we'll see what somebody tells us."

No reason for Ryan to start thumping his chest. His team still isn't all that good. But momentum and confidence have a way of dramatically changing reality in sports, and the Jets hope they indeed can salvage a season that only recently looked hopeless. They're smart to keep quiet about it, especially with an injury-plagued roster short on talent. But at least there's a chance. It's just best not to get too high or too low through the process. "I think you make life a lot more difficult if you choose to ride the roller coaster," guard Matt Slauson said. "I don't want to get into the roller coaster. All I'm trying to do is improve and win games, and whatever happens after that is gravy."

Given how bad things seemed only a few weeks ago, playing meaningful games in December looks like gravy right now.

Sure beats playing for pride, the loser's lament when all hope is gone.

> http://www.newsday.c...cture-1.4316792

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Titans RB Johnson reaches career milestone

Tennessee running back Chris Johnson has reached another career milestone in an otherwise bleak losing season for the Titans.

Johnson has become just the eighth player in NFL history to run for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons, topping the plateau in Sunday's loss to Indianapolis. The others in that category are Barry Sanders, :cheer: Curtis Martin :cheer:, Eric Dickerson, Tony Dorsett, Corey Dillon, Eddie George and LaDanian Tomlinson."It's real special to be amongst some elite company like those guys or whatever," Johnson said Tuesday. "Just give God a lot of thanks being able to stay healthy all the first five years I've been in the league and to be able to go over a thousand yards each of those years."Johnson has missed only one game in his five seasons, and that came in 2008 when the Titans sat him for the regular season finale to protect him for the playoffs in his rookie season.

Reaching 1,000 yards seemed impossible back in September. Johnson ran for 4, 17 and 24 yards in each of his first three games and the Titans were last in the NFL in rushing. Then Johnson broke out with 141 yards, and only Adrian Peterson (1,370) and Doug Martin of Tampa Bay (1,020) have more yards rushing than his 992 since the fourth week of the season.Now Johnson is averaging 4.7 yards on his 223 carries for 1,037 yards for the season, seventh in the NFL."I'm very proud of that because you know in this game of football you have a lot of ups and downs no matter what type of player you are," Johnson said. "You know you're going to have good moments and you're going to have your down moments. It's all about how you bring it back and how you overcome those down moments."It's been mostly down for the Titans (4-9) who have lost five of their last six games for their second losing season in three years.But with three games left, Johnson easily should top the 1,047 yards he had last season in his worst year as a professional. He had been on pace for his third best season behind only 2009 when he ran for 2,009 yards as the sixth man in NFL history to top 2,000 and in 2010 when he followed that up by running for 1,364 yards.

Then coach Mike Munchak fired offensive co-ordinator Chris Palmer on Nov. 26 and gave the job to quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains. The Titans also lost two more starting offensive linemen Dec. 2 in a loss to Houston, leaving left tackle Michael Roos as the only starter from the beginning of training camp.Johnson ran for 51 yards in the loss to Houston, and he was held to 44 yards on 19 carries in the 27-23 loss at Indianapolis. He topped 1,000 yards for the season on his third carry against the Colts and didn't have a run longer than 8 yards in the game.Munchak said Monday the Titans were not as consistent running the ball as they needed to be and also that Johnson cut back way too fast at times.

For Johnson,he said the past two games have been frustrating with all the changes.His next chance to run comes Monday night when the Titans host the New York Jets (6-7), a team Johnson ran for 97 yards against in his last game."Really nothing I can do about it. Just continue to work hard in practice and try to get better each week," Johnson said.

> http://www.sportsnet...areer milestone

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Gleason : Jets don't have the feel of a playoff team

Give Jets coach Rex Ryan credit.

He refuses to be reeled into talk about his team making the playoffs. Ryan has resisted making many declarations this season, ever since proclaiming in preseason that it's his best team as Jets coach.I like the new Rex, especially now. He knows his team can't make a great case for reaching the playoffs. Not now. He knows those wins over Arizona and Jacksonville were jayvee "Ws" in a varsity league. Perhaps deep down, Ryan even knows his team isn't very good, at least not nearly as good as he once believed.

So Ryan has tried another tact largely foreign to him — humility. Players have smartly avoided the topic as well. Let fans and the media chat up the Jets' playoff possibilities. And boy are those possibilities being actively discussed these days.

AFC playoff picture

Division leaders

Texans 11-2

Patriots 10-3

Broncos 10-3

Ravens 9-4

Wild-card leaders

Colts 9-4

Steelers 7-6

In the hunt

Bengals 7-6

Jets 6-7

But let's be honest.

The Jets (6-7) would need some kind of football miracle to make the playoffs.I'm sure crazier things have happened in this wacky league. I just can't think of one.The popular argument trumpeting their playoff chances is the Jets' schedule. Tennessee, San Diego and Buffalo hardly represent a who's-who of prime NFL beef. But we are asking the Jets to win all three games. We are asking a team with one signature victory — a 35-9 rout of Indianapolis in Week 6 — to win its final five games.The Jets are riding their first two-game win streak of 2012. They have done it against Arizona and Jacksonville, two brutal NFL teams. Arizona responded to its loss to the Jets by dropping a 58-0 nailbiter in Seattle. The Jags have beaten the Colts and the Titans. That is all. Only four of Jacksonville's 11 losses have been by seven or fewer points, including its 17-10 thriller against the Jets on Sunday.

We are asking a five-game win streak from an offense that appears incapable of a sustained passing game. Quarterback Mark Sanchez didn't exactly redeem himself against the Jags after getting yanked from the Arizona game. Not that it's entirely Sanchez's fault. Each game further highlights his remarkable lack of surrounding playmakers.Sanchez's lack of weapons and his own struggles have forced coaches to reduce the playbook to mostly high-percentage, low-yardage throws. Even if Sanchez gets his head on straight down the stretch, he will need significant help from receivers to prevent defenses from crowding the box in all-out efforts to stop the Jets' running game.And it's not like the Jets' defense can be counted on to channel the 2000 Ravens.

Despite their modest streak, the Jets are 29th in the league against the run.You can make a strong case that the Titans, Chargers & Bills are every bit as bad as the Jets.You can.All three Jets opponents have a plethora of awful performances stuck to their stat sheet.But the Titans, Chargers, Bills and Jets are four peas in a pod. All three games will be toss-ups. How in the world are the Jets, with virtually no offense to speak of and a leaky defense, going to finish the regular season on a five-game win streak ?

Playoffs ?

I'm tempted to borrow one of the most overused yet timelessly hilarious coaching quotes in NFL history. With apologies to former Saints and Colts coach Jim Mora ... PLAYOFFS?!!!


> http://www.recordonl...120327/-1/rss02

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How the Jets could make the playoffs

As unlikely as it may have been earlier this year, the Jets can realistically start thinking about playoff scenarios as they prepare to face Tennessee on Monday night. Here are some scenarios to focus on this weekend, courtesy of ESPN Stats and Information.

• Baltimore can clinch the AFC North this weekend (meaning Pittsburgh and Cincinnati could only be Wild Card teams) in these scenarios:

1. A win or

2. A tie + Bengals loss or tie or

3. A tie + Steelers loss or tie or

4. Bengals and Steelers loss


The Jets would lose the tiebreaker in a head-to-head scenario against the Ravens (the Ravens will have better conference mark), so it would help the Jets if the Ravens win the division. The Jets could potentially finish with a better conference mark than the Bengals, but obviously need to finish with a better record than Pittsburgh to beat them head-to-head.

• Baltimore clinches a playoff spot this weekend in these scenarios (meaning that Pittsburgh or Cincinnati could possibly pass the Ravens for the AFC North):

1. A tie or

2. Bengals loss or tie or

3. Steelers loss or tie


Going back to the last point, it helps the Jets if the Ravens win the division because the Jets can't win head-to-head tiebreakers against Pittsburgh or Baltimore. The Jets win a tiebreaker over the Bengals so that would be their best way in.

• Indianapolis can clinch a playoff spot this weekend (the Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Colts if the teams battle for one spot) in these scenarios:

1. Colts win or

2. Colts tie + Bengals loss or tie or

3. Colts tie + Bengals loss or tie or

4. Bengals loss or tie + Steelers loss or tie + Jets loss or tie


The Jets hold the tiebreaker over the Colts so it would help them if the Colts go 0-3 the rest of the season and the Jets end up in a head-to-head scenario against the Colts for the final spot. Of course, the Colts play the Chiefs in Week 16, so it might take some help for the Jets to rely on this scenario.

• Even if the Jets win this weekend, they still need some help to get into the playoffs. Here's how it will stand this weekend if the Jets are able to beat the Titans:

Steelers & Bengals both lose: Steelers are still the No. 6 seed

Steelers win, Bengals lose: Steelers are still the No. 6 seed

Steelers lose, Bengals win: Bengals are the new No. 6 seed

--No matter what the Colts do against the Texans, they are still the No. 5 seed after this weekend.

> http://espn.go.com/b...ke-the-playoffs

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Mark Sanchez struggling vs. blitz

Mark Sanchez needs to work on several areas of his game in order to remain the starting quarterback of the New York Jets after this season. But perhaps the biggest hole in Sanchez's game is his inability to handle the blitz.

Five Worst QBRs vs. 5+ Pass-Rushers

Player Team QBR Source: ESPN Stats & Information Mark Sanchez Jets 15.0 Jay Cutler Bears 16.0 Kevin Kolb Cardinals 20.6 Brandon Weeden Browns 21.1 Matt Cassel Chiefs 29.1

According to ESPN Stats & Information, Sanchez has the worst QBR (15.0) in the NFL against five or more pass-rushers. Opponents are taking notice, because Sanchez also is the league's most-blitzed quarterback at 37.7 percent.Expect New York's opponent, the Tennessee Titans, to continue that trend when they play on "Monday Night Football." Tennessee's defense is at its best when blitzing. The Titans (4-9) have a 33.5 opponent QBR when bringing five or more rushers.

Sanchez gets most of the blame for his struggles against the blitz. But his supporting cast and coaching staff also deserve some. New York (6-7) doesn't have any dynamic skill players to strike fear in an opposing defense -- making it easy to for defensive coordinators to dial up blitzes. The Jets' ground-and-pound offense also can be predictable. New York ran the football 42 times, compared to just 19 passes from Sanchez, in last week's 17-10 victory over the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11).

The Titans are another team struggling against the run, so expect New York to stick to its formula. Tennessee allows 127 rushing yards per game, which is ranked 23rd in the league.Tennessee's best chance to beat the Jets is to stack the box and see if the Jets can win through the air. How Sanchez responds against the blitz will go a long way toward determining the outcome of Monday's game.

> http://espn.go.com/b...ggling-vs-blitz

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Scouting report: Early look at the Titans

Let's take a quick glance at the Jets' next opponent, the Titans (4-9), whom they face on ESPN's Monday Night Football:

1. They're calling this one of the worst seasons in Titans history. They've lost three straight and they're one defeat away from their second 10-loss season in the past three years.

ten.gif2. This is their first Monday night appearance since Nov. 18, 2010. Embattled coach Mike Munchak is hoping his team will be motivated by the national stage. He needs a big win to help his eroding job security.

3. A sure sign of a poorly-coached team is a lack of preparation. The Titans have been outscored by 66 points in the first quarter, the largest differential in the league.

4. Chris Johnson is the one player with the ability to ruin the Jets' night. He got off to a horrible start, but he's up to 1,037 rushing yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry over the past 10 games. Problem is, the Titans have lost four starting linemen to season-ending injuries.

5. Second-year QB Jake Locker is experiencing serious growing pains. He has seven interceptions and only three TD passes during the three-game losing streak, incurring the wrath of the fans. He does two things well: He can run (9.9 yards per scramble, second-best in the league) and he throws an accurate deep ball. In fact, he has completed a league-high 48.3 percent of his throws of 20+ yards, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

6. Locker's top weapon is WR Nate Washington, a dangerous vertical threat. He has 12 receptions of 20+ yards, averaging 16.6 yards per catch.

7. The Titans' defense is ranked 27th overall and largely devoid of playmakers. Their top pass rusher is DE Kamieron Wimbley, who leads the team with five sacks.

> http://espn.go.com/b...k-at-the-titans

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Three-point stance: Tennessee Titans

The Jets continue their steady climb in the AFC and find themselves within one game of the final playoff spot heading into Monday Night Football in Tennessee.Gang Green has won back-to-back games for the first time this season and will take on the Titans who have given up the second-most points in the NFL.While Mark Sanchez started the year with accuracy issues, in the last four games he has the second-best completion percentage among AFC starters.

Best AFC Completion Percentage

Last 4 Games

Comp pct << Matt Schaub 65.9 Mark Sanchez 65.6 Peyton Manning 65.4 Charlie Batch 64.3 Tom Brady 63.5 >> Starting QBs

He will face a defense that has allowed a completion rate of 67.8 percent to opponents which ranks last in the NFL.The Jets will welcome back Braylon Edwards who has been the best deep threat receiver Sanchez has had with an average target depth of 15.5 yards downfield. The 10 touchdowns between them is more than Sanchez has with all active Jets receivers combined.

Here are three matchups to watch in Week 15 :

1. Running back Chris Johnson has rushed for 1,000 yards for the fifth straight season to begin his career and leads the Titans who rank second in the AFC with 4.7 yards per rush.The ground attack can be stopped when you consider the Titans rank last in the NFL in yards gained after contact per rush. It will be up to the Jets to contain, swarm and finish tackles.As easy as that sounds, it can be difficult against the elusive Johnson who leads the AFC in rushing yards gained on plays when he is not contacted by a defender, including all four of his touchdowns.

2. The Jets have returned to the Rex Ryan roots of ground and pound with the most rushing attempts in the NFL in winning three of their last four games.Gang Green has scored all five of their rushing touchdowns over that stretch by running up the middle between center Nick Mangold and either guard. That leads the NFL along with the most rushing yards and yards after contact in that direction since Week 11.The Titans will need to plug the middle, disrupt the backfield and add to their AFC-leading 52 tackles for loss to have success against the Jets.

Most Deep Throws Faced

2012 Season

Pass Att << Jets 66 Patriots 63 Browns 63 Packers 59 Texans 58 >> 20+ yards downfield

3. With previous experience as a baseball prospect, Jake Locker has a very strong arm and leads qualified NFL passers in completion percentage on throws that traveled more than 20 yards in the air.Locker has thrown a touchdown every 7.3 pass attempts on the deep ball, which leads the AFC, and the Titans are the only AFC team without a dropped pass on a 20+ yard throw this year.The Jets meanwhile have been tested on the deep ball more often than any other team in the NFL.Fortunately, their strength is a passing defense that ranks second in the AFC in both total passing yards allowed per game and Total QBR allowed on attempts of more than 20 yards.

> http://espn.go.com/b...ennessee-titans

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Realistic expectations for Braylon Edwards

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan announced Thursday that he expects veteran wide receiver Braylon Edwards to play against the Tennessee Titans on "Monday Night Football." This is a huge game for the Jets (6-7), who are just one game out of the final wild-cardspot in the AFC.

nyj.gifWhat can we expect for the former Pro Bowl receiver ?

Let’s examine.

  • Health is the first issue. Edwards is still bothered by a hamstring that eventually led to his release with the Seattle Seahawks. He's practicing this week in a limited capacity. Edwards made little impact with Seattle, and hasn't caught a pass since Week 6 against the New England Patriots. To expect Edwards to come in on short notice and dominate is asking too much. Edwards has to play his role and contribute, while other skill players like receiver Jeremy Kerley and tailback Shonn Greene shoulder the load.
  • Learning a new offense is the second issue. Edwards says he’s "coming home" to his former team. But although he's playing with many of the same players from 2010, Edwards is playing in a new system. Brian Schottenheimer’s offense is significantly different from Tony Sparano's offense. That probably means Edwards’ role in the offense also changes.
  • Chemistry is the third issue. Two years have gone by since Edwards last played football with his Jets teammates. Will he hit the ground running and immediately be on the same page? The good news is Edwards and quarterback Mark Sanchez have always had a good rapport. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Sanchez has 10 career touchdown passes to Edwards. The Jets can use another scoring connection from these two against the Titans.

Overall, it's important for the Jets to set realistic expectations with Edwards. He's not the same big-play receiver he was two years ago. But Edwards, if healthy, is still capable of contributing to New York's playoff push.

> http://espn.go.com/b...braylon-edwards

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Rex Ryan is taking nothing for granted, not the way this season has gone for the New York Jets.

The Jets still have hope that a favourable schedule will give them a chance at the National Football League playoffs even after a 3-6 start. Ryan, though, is taking it one game at a time, beginning with the woeful Tennessee Titans on Monday night.“I know we have three games left in the regular season,” Ryan said. “But every bit of our energy is focused on this particular game. Whatever is in the past, we can’t dwell on or look at or whatever. We’re just focused right now on one game.”The Jets(6-7) head to Nashville having won two straight and three of their last four to put themselves a game out of the AFC’s No.6 seed.After the Titans(4-9),Jets finish out at home against San Diego(5-8)& at Buffalo(5-8).“Guarantees are no good,” Jets safety Yeremiah Bell said. “As a team, you’ve just got to take care of business. Talk is cheap. You’ve still got to go out, you’ve still got to play the game. As long as we keep that one-game-mentality approach, we’ll be fine.”

The Jets hit a low point when they were routed 49-19 on Thanksgiving night by New England to fall to 4-7. But they rebounded by beating a pair of losing teams, first Arizona and then Jacksonville last week. They didn’t look good doing it, but at this point a win is a win.Jets defensive end Mike DeVito said one loss can feel like the end of the world, but a couple of wins helps things out.“It’s kind of the way the atmosphere is around here and you have to recognize that and realize that the worst thing you can do is, when things like that are happening is to pack it in and really believe that,” DeVito said. “Either way, you just have to continue each week to be consistent and get better.”Tennessee blew its chance to stay in the playoff mix or even salvage a winning season after owner Bud Adams put the entire franchise on notice that he wanted improvement. The Titans have lost three straight and five of their last six, most recently after blowing a 13-point halftime and falling 27-23 to Indianapolis.

Coach Mike Munchak is hoping the prime-time atmosphere brings out the best in his young Titans. They beat Pittsburgh 26-23 in prime time on Oct. 11, and this is the franchise’s first Monday night game in Nashville since 2008.“We know we’re a lot better than 4-9. I know people don’t know much about us,” Munchak said. “They haven’t seen us play other than the Pittsburgh game, which we won when we were on national TV. We want to win and play well and having it on national TV just adds to it, so maybe people can see really what we’re about.”The Titans haven’t won since beating Miami 37-3 on Nov. 11. They are embracing the chance to spoil the Jets’ playoff hopes.“That’s all we can do from here on out,” Titans cornerback Jason McCourty said. “We want to win our last three games, and we’re going to do everything we possibly can to do that.”

The Titans have shown signs of improvement over the past month, especially on third-down defence, even though they still rank next to last in the NFL allowing 29.9 points per game. They sacked Andrew Luck four times and hit him repeatedly in holding the Colts to 269 total yards.Tennessee also may have middle linebacker Colin McCarthy back from a concussion that kept him out the past two games.The Jets brought back receiver Braylon Edwards to help an injury-depleted group and a passing offence ranked 30th in the NFL. Ryan expects Edwards to play, giving quarterback Mark Sanchez a familiar target.Sanchez isn’t sure how quickly they will get back on the same page.“We’ll see,” Sanchez said.

The last meeting in Nashville was 2008, when Brett Favre helped the Jets end Tennessee’s 10-game win streak to open the season. The Titans have beaten the Jets only once since moving to Tennessee in 1997 with New York winning four of the past five games, including 24-17 on Sept. 27, 2009.The game is sold out, though how many fans actually show up in the seats remains to be seen after thousands stayed away from their last game. Munchak said he hopes fans turn out and show their support.Chris Johnson, who became the eighth player in NFL history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first five seasons to start his career, said the Titans know they have to keep playing hard.“I’m sure the microscope is on every single person for whatever odd reason, if it’s to keep a job here for the coaches or as a player to continue to be on this team next year or even if you’re not, just to put things on film for other teams to see,” Johnson said. “So I’m sure everybody still have something to play for.”

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Injury report : Bleak for Hill, Keller

Don't expect to see WR Stephen Hill (sprained knee) Monday night in Tennessee. Hill didn't practice Thursday, saying afterward, "It hurts." It's possible he could miss the final three games. He said the LCL ligament is "loose." ... TE Dustin Keller (sprained ankle) is a long shot for Monday night as well ... WR Clyde Gates (concussion) returned to the field for light individual work, but there's little chance of him playing ... Barring a setback, newly-acquired WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring) will play ... RB Bilal Powell (shoulder/toe) is expected to play.


nyj.gifDid not practice: WR Clyde Gates (concussion), TE Dustin Keller (ankle), WR Stephen Hill (knee), CB Aaron Berry (hamstring), RB Bilal Powell (shoulder/toe), LB Bryan Thomas (chest).

Limited: NT Sione Po'uha (back), WR Braylon Edwards (hamstring).

Full practice: NT Kenrick Ellis (knee), QB Mark Sanchez (back), G Matt Slauson (knee), TE Jeff Cumberland (wrist), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), C Nick Mangold (shoulder), LB Bart Scott (toe), G Brandon Moore (hip), S LaRon Landry (heel), RB Joe McKnight (ankle), QB Tim Tebow (ribs), NT Damon Harrison (ankle), LB Ricky Sapp (ankle).


ten.gifDid not practice: RB Chris Johnson (ankle), LB Colin McCarthy (concussion), DE Scott Solomon (knee), WR Damian Williams (hamstring).

Limited: DT Jurrell Casey (knee), OT Michael Roos (knee).

Full practice: WR Kenny Britt (knee), S Michael Griffin (neck), QB Jake Locker (left shoulder), DE Kamerion Wimbley (toe).

> http://espn.go.com/b...for-hill-keller

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Final Word : AFC East

~ ~ Sanchez-Kerley connection :

Not much has gone right for the New York Jets' offense this season. But New York might have found something between quarterback Mark Sanchez and second-year receiver Jeremy Kerley when throwing the deep ball. According to ESPN Stats & Information, Sanchez is an impressive 8-for-11 (72.7 percent) on passes of 20 yards or more to Kerley this season. Expect those two to try to connect for big plays again when the Jets travel to face the Tennessee Titans on "Monday Night Football." Kerley has taken over as New York's No. 1 receiver after the season-ending foot injury to Santonio Holmes. Kerley has 52 receptions for 728 yards and 2 touchdowns this season.

rest of article :

> http://espn.go.com/b...ord-afc-east-64

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Final Word: AFC South

~ ~ Bad beginnings : The Titans' slow starts have been a major problem. ESPN Stats & Information points out the Titans have allowed 38 more points in the first quarter than any other team. They are minus-66 in the first quarter. The Raiders are second worst (minus-57). The Titans have allowed 131 first-quarter points, 38 more than the Saints, who are second worst. The Jets are averaging only three first-quarter points. They are trying to take pressure off struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez. The Titans need to stuff Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell on the ground and put the game on Sanchez’s shoulders.

rest of article :

> http://espn.go.com/b...rd-afc-south-63

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w/ Bengals' Win, Jets' Playoff Odds Get Longer....

Since they're playing in the last of this week's slate of NFL games—Monday night in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans—the Jets won't have to do any scoreboard-watching while they play in prime time. They'll know exactly where they are in the AFC playoff standings.After Thursday night,their mission has become clearer, & more difficult.With their victory over theEagles,theBengals improved to 8-6,moving themselves 1½ games ahead of the Jets,who are 6-7 & clinging to the hope that they can win their final three regular-season games and earn themselves a berth in the playoffs.The Bengals are one of three teams who are ahead of the Jets in the race for the AFC's two wild-card spots. The Indianapolis Colts (9-4) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (7-6) are the others. Assuming the Jets do beat the Titans, the Chargers and the Bills, here's what would need to happen for them to overtake each team:

The Colts :

Because they beat Indianapolis earlier this season, the Jets hold the tie-breaker advantage between the two teams. If the Colts lose out, the Jets would finish ahead of them. But Indy has rookie sensation Andrew Luck at quarterback and two-win Kansas City on its schedule.

The Bengals :

The Jets need Cincinnati to lose at least one of its final two games, both of which are AFC contests. If both teams finish 9-7, the Jets again would hold the tie-breaker because they'd finish 7-5 within the conference. The Bengals would be just 6-6.

The Steelers :

Pittsburgh beat the Jets in Week 2, which means the Steelers have to finish 8-8 or worse to end up behind New York in the standings. They could help the Jets' cause by beating the Bengals on Dec. 23, but Pittsburgh would then have to lose its remaining two games.

> http://online.wsj.co...SJ_topics_obama

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Walker's AFC East picks

The AFC East blog had a banner Week 14 by going 4-0. That brings our total record up to a stellar 34-9 predicting division games this season.

We aim to finish strong. Let’s get to another round of AFC East picks for Week 15 :

~ ~ New York Jets (6-7) at Tennessee Titans (4-9), Monday at 8:30 p.m. ET

Skinny : Don't be fooled by the Titans' record, because they are a little better than you think. The Jets have won the past two weeks with smoke and mirrors. Their playoff chances end this week.

Pick : Titans, 17-14

Last week : 4-0

Overall : 34-9

> http://espn.go.com/b...c-east-picks-15

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Three things to watch : Jets at Titans

The New York Jets (6-7) will try to stay alive in the AFC wild-card race against the Tennessee Titans (4-9) on ESPN’s "Monday Night Football."

ten.gifnyj.gifHere are three things to watch for New York :

1. Braylon Edwards returns : The Jets went back to the future this week and re-signed veteran receiver Edwards. New York was desperately thin at receiver and brought back Edwards, who starred for the Jets in 2009 and 2010. With rookie Stephen Hill injured, Edwards could get a solid workload in his first game back with New York. Edwards and Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez had great chemistry during their two seasons together. The Jets would benefit if Edwards can hit the ground running on Monday night.

2. Can Jets' defense dominate ? New York is 2-0 in December because its defense is playing lights out. The Jets are allowing just eight points per game the past two weeks. That takes a lot of pressure off the offense, which has done just enough to win. But New York did this against the lowly Arizona Cardinals and Jacksonville Jaguars, which are two of the worst offenses in the NFL. Tennessee’s offense, with star tailback Chris Johnson, will present a stiffer challenge.

3. The Tebow factor : Backup quarterback Tim Tebow is expected to return to the field for the first time in four weeks. Jets coach Rex Ryan says Tebow will be available against Tennessee, perhaps in the Wildcat package. The Jets’ offense is struggling and needs all hands on deck.

> http://espn.go.com/b...-jets-at-titans

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Send in the next tomato can.

The Jets, trying to continue their desperate, late-season rally, meet their third consecutive last-place opponent Monday night in Nashville. This time, it's the Titans (4-9), who have dropped three straight to put themselves on the brink of their second double digit-loss season in three years.For the Jets (6-7), hoping to reach .500 for the first time since Week 6, it's win or start planning for 2013. A loss would mathematically eliminate them from playoff contention. If the Jets win their third straight, they'd maintain a pulse into Week 16.

Kickoff is 8:30 p.m. at LP Field. What to watch for :

ten.gifnyj.gif1. Mistake-prone QBs : So you think Mark Sanchez has a turnover problem? The Titans' Jake Locker has him beat in that department. The second-year QB has nine turnovers in the past three games -- seven interceptions and two fumbles. That's three more than Sanchez in the same span.Mistakes notwithstanding, Locker can be dangerous because he does two things well: He can escape pressure (9.9 yards per scramble) and he can throw the deep ball (league-high 48.3 completion percentage on passes of 20+ yards). His most dangerous target is former Rutgers star Kenny Britt, who had a season-high 143 yards last week. The Jets believe they can make Locker panic by shutting down his first read. Chances are, the team with the fewest QB mistakes will win.

2. Braylon 2.0 : Braylon Edwards has been slowed by an old hamstring injury, but the newly-acquired wide receiver is expected to make his 2012 debut for the Jets. In his first stint with the Jets, Edwards had a penchant for playing well in prime time. In his 2009 debut, in Week 5, he caught five passes for 64 yards and a TD against the Dolphins on Monday Night Football. Then, like now, he had only a few days to familiarize himself with the offense.Edwards could be used in three-receiver sets with Jeremy Kerley and Chaz Schilens. Sanchez has a built-in comfort level with Edwards, who could be useful in the red zone because of his size. The question is, will his balky hammy hold up an entire game?

3. Run D vs. CJ : Titans RB Chris Johnson reached the 1,000-yard mark for the fifth straight year, but this hasn't been a vintage year.He has been slowed by a sore ankle & upheaval on the offensive linewhich has changed four starters since camp.The only original starter is LT Michael Roos.The weak link is C Kevin Matthews, who had three holding penalties two weeks ago. Don't be surprised if the Jets put DE Muhammad Wilkerson on Matthews in certain fronts.Johnson was held to 51 and 44 yards in the last two games, but he remains a home-run threat because of his speed. He needs space to run because he's not the type of back to break tackles. The Titans are last in the league in rushing yards after contact, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Conversely, Johnson leads the AFC in yards before contact. Get the picture?

4. Kids R Them : The Titans are very young on defense, especially at linebacker -- two second-year players (Akeem Ayers and Colin McCarthy) and rookie Zach Brown. They're fast and aggressive, but that means they're vulnerable to misdirection runs, counters and play-action passes.The Jets have done a nice job in recent weeks with counters and misdirection plays, especially the wind-back run. You also could see a throwback screen. The goal, of course, is to exploit over-pursuit. One injury to watch: McCarthy, who calls the defensive signals, is out with a concussion.

5. Beware, a McCourty is lurking : Jason McCourty starts at cornerback for the Titans. His twin brother, Patriots CB Devin McCourty, already has inflicted plenty of misery into the Jets' season. He scored on a 104-yard kickoff return and, in the Thanksgiving night debacle, he set up a TD by forcing a fumble on a kickoff return by Joe McKnight. The ball flew into the air and landed softly in the hands of Julian Edelman, who returned it for a score. Not surprisingly, Jason said he called his twin bro' this week to pick his brain for some intel on the Jets.

6. Return of the 'Cat ? Rex Ryan made a big deal out of Tim Tebow's supposedly improved physical condition, suggesting that Tebow -- a spectator the last three games because of fractured ribs -- could be back in his old role, whatever that is. We'll believe it when we see it.

> http://espn.go.com/b...-jets-at-titans

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It's all on the line -- really

The Jets’ best chance to win – Monday night and the remainder of the season – rests on the offensive line.

It’s the only unit that hasn’t been beset by injuries. In fact, not one starter has missed a game, a rare case of continuity for this team.What’s more, the line is improving, making recent strides in the running game. The question is, what took so long? That’s where there’s a difference of opinion.Rex Ryan said it took time for the line to get comfortable with Tony Sparano’s gap blocking scheme, designed for a physical, downhill running attack. A year ago, the Jets employed a zone scheme, a finesse system in which the linemen block areas.Ryan’s theory isn’t popular among the players themselves; they’re not buying the scheme explanation.“No, we ran gap schemes last year that we were successful with,” said LG Matt Slauson, whose opinion is shared by others.

Slauson attributed the recent success -- an average of 147 yards per game over the last four -- to persistence and rhythm, finding a groove.“It’s that point in the year where the running game starts to happen,” he said. “Back in 2009 and 2010, we weren’t the No. 1 rushing team in Weeks 1 to 7 or 1 to 8.That’s not how the running game works. It takes a while, beating your head against the wall.”The Jets’ 11th-ranked rushing attack is anything but dynamic – it’s been six games since they averaged better than 4.1 per carry – but it has allowed them to control the ball, taking pressure off the defense. It’s just the way Ryan wants it. It’s ugly ball, but that’s how defensive-minded coaches like it.Sparano seems to have found a comfort zone with his play calling, dialing up more counters and misdirection runs in recent weeks. That’s why you see more pulling linemen, especially the guards, Slauson and RG Brandon Moore.

Even the tackles, D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Austin Howard, are getting more chances to block on the run.Sparano agreed that the line play has improved, saying the players have become comfortable and know how to react to any defensive look they might see.With the Titans, the Jets will face a defensive front that’s better than its numbers might indicate. They’re ranked 23rd in run defense, but they’ve held their last four opponents under 126 yards. They have a young, aggressive front seven, and you can bet Sparano will try to dial up some misdirection plays -- runs and passes -- to exploit their fast-flow tendencies.

> http://espn.go.com/b...the-line-really

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Coach's big decision : Back to the 'Cat ?

After initially saying he wouldn't use the Wildcat on Monday night because of Tim Tebow's lingering rib injury, Rex Ryan reversed field on a dime, leaving the impression that Tebow is healthy enough to return to his usual role against the Titans.

Would that be a wise move ?

The Jets' running game finally is where they want it to be (an average of 147 yards per game over the last four), so returning Tebow to the equation might disrupt the rhythm they've created with Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell. Plus, it's not like Tebow was a dominant force before the injury. He has rushed for only 87 yards, averaging just 3.0 per carry.But they should consider Tebow in short-yardage situations. The Jets used to be the top short-yardage rushing team in the league, but they've slipped in recent weeks. They're down to fifth in the rankings, having converted 19 of 25 -- 76 percent. (On a side note, the Titans are No. 1 at 81.3 percent.) When a 250-pound ballcarrier can run the read-option, it puts a lot of stress on a defense.

We've spent the last 14 weeks speculating on Tebow's potential role, and the answer usually comes out like this: Less than what everyone expects.

> http://espn.go.com/b...back-to-the-cat

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