December 21, 2007 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version

As Jets Play Out String, Titans Fight for Wild Card
Football

BY SEAN LAHMAN
December 21, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/68513

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The Jets aren't sure who'll start at quarterback for them, although coach Eric Mangini says Kellen Clemens will get the nod if he's healthy. Gang Green faces a tough challenge against the Titans, a physical young team that's battling for a playoff spot.

JETS (311) at TITANS (86)
Sunday, 4:15 p.m., CBS

WHEN THE JETS HAVE THE BALL Thomas Jones needs 37 yards to reach the 1,000 yard mark for the third straight season. But that milestone can't overshadow the other disappointing numbers he's posted for the Jets, namely his 3.6 yard rushing average and just one touchdown in 14 games. While the Jets have needs at a number of positions, you have to think that the prospect of drafting a running back like Arkansas' Darren McFadden seems more appealing with each passing week.

Last year, the Titans ranked 32nd in defense, but they're in the top 10 this year. One of the biggest improvements has come from end Travis LeBoy. His emergence has made it harder for teams to double-up on teammates Kyle Vanden Bosch and Albert Haynesworth. The trio has combined for 20 sacks and gotten tougher against the run.

WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL Quarterback Vince Young is a remarkable athlete, but he's still struggling to become an NFL quarterback. He just went through a stretch of six games during which he only threw 4 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His ability to evade the pass rush and pick up yards on the ground is nice, but the Titans will only go so far without a passing game.

LenDale White has taken over the starting job at running back and emerged as a strong between-the-tackles workhorse. He doesn't have much speed, though, and the Titans don't really have any playmakers at receiver, either.

If there's anything positive to say about the Jets, it's that their defense has been getting better. They've held each of their last three opponents to 18 points or less and done a better job of stopping teams on third down.

KEY TO THE GAME The Titans are fighting for a wild card berth. That motivation and their physical style of play are likely to overwhelm the Jets.

Lahman's Pick: Titans 2113

December 21, 2007 Edition > Section: Sports > Printer-Friendly Version