Week 4: Jets-Titans matchup analysis

Jeff Reynolds, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

New York Jets (2-1) at Tennessee Titans (2-1)
Sunday, 4:05 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: CBS
*TV announcers: Greg Gumbel, Dan Dierdorf
*Keys to the game: QB Geno Smith avoided forcing the ball into traffic and was willing to throw it away, helping the Jets beat Buffalo by not instead beating themselves with turnovers as they did at New England. The Titans are improved in pass coverage, led by CB Alterraun Verner, one of the NFL's top cover corners by opponents' completion percentage. It behooves Smith to work the ball around -- he doesn't have a No. 1 receiver but Santonio Holmes is the veteran of the bunch and could emerge as a reliable safety valve. Smith and RB Bilal Powell (52 carries, 226 yards) are guiding a running game averaging 133.7 yards per game. The Titans are reaping the benefit of investing in their offensive line, but OGs Chance Warmack and Andy Levitre have their hands full with the Jets' stunts and line games. DE Muhammad Wilkerson and NT Damon Harrison can collapse the line. QB Jake Locker's mobility spares the passing game and his receiving corps can bail him out when Locker does make questionable decisions. Last week, rookie Justin Hunter emerged as a potential playmaker to complement wide receivers Nate Washington and Kendall Wright.
*Matchup to watch - Titans RB Chris Johnson vs. Jets run defense: The Jets butter their bread with a stout run defense that can't give up big plays. In the 2012 meeting on the same field, Johnson had 122 yards on 21 carries, but 94 came on the game-winning TD run.
*Player spotlight - Jets CB Dee Milliner: The rookie first-round pick played just 22 snaps even in a game in which Kyle Wilson, his replacement, was penalized four times. Milliner (hamstring) is getting healthy, but coach Rex Ryan said he's thinking too much to be a key contributor.
*Fast facts: Each of Holmes' nine receptions this season have produced a first down. ... The first six games of the season for these teams were decided by a total of 27 points (4.5 per game).
The Titans aren't going to light up the scoreboard, which means they're just the right speed for the Jets, who run with the safety on and expect their defense to determine the outcome. In a tight game, quarterback play tips the scales Tennessee's way.
*Our pick: Titans 20-15

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