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Monday Night Football
Monday Night Football
Mobility of Titans QB Young has Broncos highly concerned
November 18, 2007
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (AP) -Broncos rookie defensive lineman Tim Crowder wasn't allowed to so much as breathe on Vince Young in their college days at Texas.
Finally, the no-touch edict has been removed. Crowder gets his chance to deliver a hit on the Tennessee Titans quarterback.
That is, if he can catch up to him.
``Vince is a Superman who doesn't need a phone booth,'' Crowder said of his former Longhorns teammate. ``He's really good. He is so effortless when he makes plays.''
Young has the Denver defense on edge. The Broncos have been struggling with the run all season, giving up 151 yards a game, and now they face a mobile quarterback Monday night.
``Vince is a very talented quarterback,'' Denver defensive boss Jim Bates said. ``He's definitely a threat every time the ball is snapped.''
Young has rushed for 217 yards and two touchdowns this season. He's also coming off a game in which he threw for a career-high 257 yards in a loss to Jacksonville last Sunday.
``We always have to be aware of him,'' Bates said. ``He can make things happen.''
Denver's plan is simple: keep him in the pocket. The Broncos don't want to see him rolling out.
``He's one of the best quarterbacks going once he starts running,'' Broncos defensive lineman Sam Adams said. ``But he doesn't have to just run to make plays. He's making plays with his arm, too.''
Dre' Bly thinks a spy is definitely in order for Young. That way, he's accounted for at all times.
``Everything they do starts with Vince, and for us to be successful we have to keep Vince contained,'' Bly said. ``He poses a threat throwing the football, running the football and we have our work cut out for us. This is a team you need to worry about.''
Champ Bailey has heard the comparisons: Young is a clone of Michael Vick. Yet from what Bailey has seen on film, he doesn't totally buy into that line of thinking.
``Vick was definitely one of a kind, but he (Young) is just as effective. Vince can throw better,'' Bailey said. ``We'll see. I haven't seen him in person yet.''
Broncos rookie running back Selvin Young counts the Titans quarterback as one of his best friends. He said they've chatted a lot about the game, but no trash talk.
``We try not to push any buttons,'' said Selvin Young, who also went to Texas, and threw the block to spring Vince Young for the winning touchdown against USC in the Rose Bowl, securing the Longhorns' BCS national championship. ``We're both very competitive people.''
So competitive, in fact, they keep extra controllers around for when they play games on PlayStation.
``Because one's going to get broken,'' Selvin Young said with a grin. ``Vince is a fighter. It may not look pretty, but he's got one common theme that I have - get the job done. That's the type of person we're facing.''
That's the type of quarterback Titans coach Jeff Fisher wants in charge of the team. Vince Young is 13-8 as the Titans' starting quarterback.
``He does not like losing,'' Fisher said. ``He's very, very competitive. He's found ways to win for us.''
Crowder is hoping for just one solid hit on Young. Nothing mean or malicious on his good friend, just a clean tackle.
That would make up for all the times he had Young in his sights during practices at Texas, only to peel off at the last moment. It was either that or face the wrath of Longhorns coach Mack Brown, who outlawed hits on his prized quarterback.
``We would've got kicked off the team if we would've touched him,'' Crowder said with a laugh. ``I know his moves, but it's different when you're playing someone in a game. I always told him in practice (at Texas) that I wished I could play him in a game. Now, I get that chance.''
Re: Monday Night Football
Titans at Broncos
This week’s edition of Monday Night Football takes us to the Mile High City, where the Broncos will play host to Tennessee as two-point favorites. The total is 38 at most spots.
Gamblers can bypass laying the points and take Denver at minus 135 on the money line. That leaves the Titans at plus 115 (risk $100 to win $115) on the comeback.
Both of these teams are led by young quarterbacks with loads of potential. However, both of those QBs have been up and down this year, yet their teams remain very alive in the playoff picture.
Denver (4-5 straight up, 2-7 against the spread) has endured its share of struggles, but it can nonetheless pull into a first-place tie with San Diego in the AFC West by winning in this spot. After a 2-0 start, the Broncos lost five of their next six games.
But last week might have been a turning point. Denver went into Arrowhead Stadium and dealt Kansas City a 27-11 clubbing as a three-point road underdog. Selvin Young ran for 109 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown scamper that was the go-ahead score early in the third quarter.
Despite playing with a deep leg bruise suffered in a loss at Detroit the previous week, Jay Cutler threw for 192 yards and one touchdown, an 18-yard scoring strike to Daniel Graham to put the game on ice in the final stanza.
Tennessee (6-3 SU, 4-4-1 ATS) had its three-game winning streak snapped last week when Jacksonville went into Music City and avenged a Week 1 loss by spanking the Titans 28-13 as a 4 ½-point road underdog.
Vince Young produced more than 300 yards of offense (257 passing, 52 rushing), but he threw a pair of costly interceptions. For the season, Young has an extremely mediocre 4/10 touchdown-interception ratio.
Cutler has a 9/9 TD-INT ratio, so the numbers tell us that both second-year signal callers have been inconsistent. But in fairness to both players, we have to point out the issues both teams have at the wide receiver position.
The Titans allowed Young’s favorite target Drew Bennett to get away in free agency. Tight end Ben Troupe has been a major disappointment, while WRs Justin Gage (26 catches, 313 yards, 1 TD) and Roydell Williams (27 receptions, 352 yards, 1 TD) just aren’t big-time playmakers.
Denver veteran WR Rod Smith hasn’t played all season, while Javon Walker will miss his seventh straight game this week due to a knee injury. Brandon Marshall has become Cutler’s go-to guy, hauling in 51 receptions for 694 yards.
This will be the sixth underdog spot of the season for Tennessee. The Titans have won outright as ‘dogs three times, compiling a 4-1 spread record. As for the Broncos, they are 0-4 ATS in their four games as favorites.
Denver has traditionally been outstanding at Invesco Field and Mile High Stadium during John Elway’s storied career. Not the case this year, however. The Broncos have lost three of their five home games, and they are an abysmal 1-4 ATS at home.
The ‘over’ is on a 7-1 run in Denver’s last eight games. The ‘over’ is 7-2 overall for the Broncos, 4-1 in their home games.
On the flip side, Jeff Fisher’s squad has watched the ‘under’ produce a 7-2 overall record. The ‘under’ is 3-1 for the Titans on the road.
Tennessee DT Albert Haynesworth, who has played like a Pro-Bowler this season, sat out his fifth consecutive practice Thursday with a sore hamstring. Haynesworth missed last week’s game and remains “questionable.” CB Nick Harper (concussion) and OT David Stewart (ankle) are also “questionable” for the Titans.
Denver veteran safety John Lynch has missed most of the last two games with a neck stinger. However, Lynch returned to full speed at Thursday’s practice and will start. RB Travis Henry is also “probable” after missing the win over Kansas City with a knee injury. Henry leads the Broncos in rushing with 580 yards, averaging 4.5 yards per carry.
ESPN will provide television coverage at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--With a win at Denver, the Titans will pull into a second-place tie with Jacksonville in the AFC South. The Jags are currently one game behind division-leading Indianapolis.
--Tennessee QB Vince Young is 13-8 in 21 career starts.
--Tony Boselli enjoyed an outstanding NFL career for the Jags and might end up in Canto in the not-too-distant future. With that said, let’s be clear that he is absolutely atrocious as a Fox analyst. Horrible! Seriously, it was all I could do to not hit the mute button while watching the Falcons-Bucs. And to be clear, that game was my only option.
Re: Monday Night Football
What bettors need to know about the Monday nighter
The Titans have one of the best rush offenses in the league, while the Broncos have been unable to stop the run in most of their games this season. Unsurprisingly, Tennessee plans to keep the ball on the ground when it travels to Denver for Monday Night Football.
Tennessee is averaging 139.8 rushing yards per game to rank fourth in the NFL in the category. It faces a Broncos defense that is second-to-last in run defense (151 yards per contest).
"We keep working on it and hopefully we can continue to improve," Broncos coach Mike Shanahan told The Associated Press. "If you don't get good stopping the run, you're in for a long day, I don't care who you are."
It could be a long game for the Broncos when they face Titans running back LenDale White, who has just recovered from a knee injury. White has 625 yards and five TDs in nine games this season, and is the main focus of Denver’s defense.
“When you have a big guy like LenDale, you have to gang tackle him," safety Hamza Abdullah told AP. "One guy’s not going to bring him down so we have to get to the football."
Broncos running back Travis Henry is a former teammate of White, and had high praise for his opponent ahead of their meeting. "He's a bruiser, a pounder," Henry told the Denver Post.
"When I was there he was the same way. The more he gets it, the better he gets. If they're going to feed it to him, he can wear a defense down, I know that much. That's their plan."
White ran for 100 yards or more in three straight games before an injury forced him to sit out most of the second half in last week’s loss to Jacksonville, ending the streak.
Henry’s double trouble
A knee injury could keep Broncos running back Travis Henry out of Monday’s meeting with his former team. A failed drug test could keep him out of action for a year.
The more immediate problem is the injury. Henry has a slightly torn posterior cruciate ligament, but could be able to play if he wears a special knee brace. There are no guarantees he will do that.
"I'll wear a brace for practice," Henry told USA Today. "But I ain't going to wear it in no game. I'm not going to say I'm 100 percent. We've got until Monday, so we'll see."
Henry has more pressing problems than the brace.
He failed a drug test earlier this season for having low levels of marijuana in his urine. The tailback then passed a lie detector test and a hair sample test, the results of which he took to his appeal on Friday. He will be notified of the NFL’s ruling on Tuesday.
Henry faces a one-year suspension if his appeal is rejected.
“I feel good about things," he told reporters after the hearing. “Wait ‘til Tuesday.”
Henry led the league in rushing after the first month of the season, but has run for just 147 yards since then. Henry’s year has been hampered by a series of injuries.
Undrafted rookie Selvin Young will replace him if he is not fit on Monday. Young gained 109 yards and scored a touchdown against the Chiefs last week.
Titans’ key man
With running backs LenDale White and Chris Brown apparently ready to start, Tennessee’s biggest injury concern is now Albert Haynesworth.
The defensive tackle is still struggling with the sore right hamstring that kept him of last week’s loss. He is a game-time decision for Monday.
Haynesworth is considered one of the best run-stoppers in the league. Last Sunday he missed a game for the first time this season and the Titans gave up a season-high 166 rushing yards in a 28-12 loss.
"We were just out of position, we missed some tackles and those kinds of things," Fisher told AP, while agreeing that Haynesworth’s absence was a blow. "But no, they didn't go in pressing or lacking confidence because one of their teammates was out."
Haynesworth is tied for the team lead with five sacks and is a critical part of the league’s fourth-ranked pass defense.
Last week’s loss to Jacksonville was the first game all season in which the Titans surrendered more than 100 yards. It also snapped a three-game winning streak and denied them the chance to move into a tie for first place in the AFC South.
Chip on his shoulder
Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler could have been a Titan. Tennessee decided to pick up Vince Young in 2006 NFL draft, while Cutler waited eight picks before eventually packing his bags for the mile-high city.
This week, Cutler gets the chance to lead his Broncos team against Young and the Titans, but claims his main focus is getting the win.
"I think everyone in the league has a sense of pride, a little chip on their shoulder when they get passed over by a team,'' he told The Nashville Tennessean. "Obviously I watched a lot of Titans games and got to know Vince a little bit through the draft.
“It's going to be fun, but I have to take care of my job and my responsibilities on this team. It's another game we need to win.''
Cutler has passed for 1,882 yards with nine touchdowns for the season, compared to 1,112 yards and four touchdowns for Young. Cutler also has the better passer rating and has thrown for three more touchdowns than Young in the past four games.
"He is ahead of where I thought he'd be,'' Broncos coach Mike Shanahan added. "I think he has a great future.”
Head to head
Denver has won, and covered, in its last two meetings with Tennessee. The home team has won seven of the last eight meetings, and covered in six of those wins.
The over is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
Re: Monday Night Football
Tennessee (6-3 SU, 5-4 ATS) at Denver (4-5 SU, 2-7 ATS)
The Titans look for their fourth road win this season when they visit the Mile High City in a nationally televised AFC matchup against the Broncos.
Tennessee hits the highway following a three-game homestand that ended with last week’s 28-13 loss to the Jaguars as a 4½-point underdog. The Titans are 3-1 SU and ATS as a visitor, averaging 23 points per game, as opposed to 17.2 ppg at home. The last time the Titans went on the road was Oct. 21 when they beat Houston 38-36 as a two-point underdog.
Denver snapped a two-game skid with a 27-11 win in Kansas City a week ago as a three-point underdog, finishing with a 327-284 edge in total yardage, the first time in seven games that the Broncos outgained an opponent. The last time the Broncos played on Monday night was three weeks ago when they lost to the Packers on the first play of OT, falling 19-13 as a three-point chalk.
Denver’s run defense gives up 151 yards a game (second to last in the NFL) and faces a Tennessee rushing attack averaging 139.8 yards per game, fourth best in the league. The Titans run defense is also fourth in the league, surrendering just 76.8 yards per game.
The Titans are an ATS runs of 9-1-1 ATS on the road , 12-2-1 as a ‘dog since QB Vince Young was named the starter last year and 11-4 against AFC opponents. On Monday nights, Tennessee is 6-7 SU and ATS all-time on the highway, including a 31-14 rout of New Orleans as a 4½-point underdog back in Week 3.
Denver is on ATS slides of 1-10 in front of the home crowd and 1-9 against teams with a winning record. Including the loss to Green Bay, the Broncos are 18-10-1 SU and 11-17-1 ATS at home on Monday nights.
The over has been the play in seven of Denver’s last eight overall and nine of its last 10 home games. However, the under is 7-2 in Tennessee’s last nine overall.
ATS ADVANTAGE: TENNESSEE
Re: Monday Night Football
Game Preview for Titans vs Broncos
(Sports Network) - Did the Tennessee Titans pick the wrong quarterback in the 2006 Draft?
Jay Cutler can make a strong case that they did on Monday night, when the Denver Broncos quarterback and his team host Vince Young and company to cap off the Week 11 schedule.
Holding the No. 3 overall pick in 2006, the Titans selected Young over USC quarterback Matt Leinart, who went No. 10 to Arizona, and Cutler, who was nabbed one pick later by a Broncos team that had traded up to acquire his services.
There had been speculation in the days and weeks leading up to the Draft that the Titans would take a long look at Cutler, who had played his college ball just miles away at Vanderbilt University.
A year-and-a-half later, both quarterbacks have played to somewhat mixed reviews.
Young was the league's 2006 Rookie of the Year after rallying Tennessee from an 0-5 to start to finish 8-8. The Texas product threw for 2,199 yards with 12 touchdown passes and rushed for 552 with seven scores, but has experienced something of a sophomore slump in 2007.
Young has yet to develop as a productive passer, having thrown just four touchdown passes versus 10 interceptions this year, and a quadriceps injury has somewhat hampered his trademark wheels (217 rushing yards, 2 TD).
Still, Young has done enough to get the Titans to 6-3 and in the thick of both the AFC South and Wild Card races.
Cutler, meanwhile, has been a bit more effective than has Young, though his team doesn't have the record to show for it.
The strong-armed passer has 1,882 yards through the air with nine touchdown tosses and nine interceptions, but Denver was a disappointing 4-5 heading into Week 11.
That mark includes a 27-11 upset win at Kansas City last week, a triumph that helped the Broncos remain one game back of first-place San Diego in the mediocre AFC West.
Tennessee holds a 20-12-1 edge in the all-time regular season series with Denver, but was a 37-16 home loser when the teams last met, late in the 2004 season. The previous meeting between the franchises came in 1995, when the then-Houston Oilers prevailed in a meeting at the Astrodome. The Titans/Oilers franchise last won in Denver in 1987.
In addition to their regular season history, the franchises have met three times in the postseason, with the Oilers taking a 13-7 win in a 1979 AFC First-Round Playoff and the Broncos winning AFC Divisional Playoffs at home in 1987 (34-10) and 1991 (26-24).
Denver head coach Mike Shanahan is 1-2 in his career against the Titans/Oilers, including a loss while head coach of the then-Los Angeles Raiders in 1988. Tennessee's Jeff Fisher is 1-1 versus both Shanahan and the Broncos as a head coach.
WHEN THE TITANS HAVE THE BALL
Though Young (1112 passing yards) has experienced his struggles this year, he showed signs of breaking out of his funk in last week's loss to Jacksonville. The quarterback threw for a career-high 257 yards on 24-of-41 passing, rushed for his highest total (52 yards) since Week 2, and also threw his first touchdown pass since Week 3 on a 20-yard play to Justin Gage (26 receptions, 1 TD) in the fourth quarter. However, Young also helped sink the Titans with four sacks absorbed and two costly interceptions, and has now been saddled with 12 turnovers on the year. Against a Denver team that is sketchy against the run, Tennessee will want to take the pressure off of Young and feature a heavy dose of running back LenDale White (625 rushing yards, 5 TD, 12 receptions), who had a streak of three consecutive 100-yard games snapped with an eight-carry, 12-yard performance against Jacksonville. Ex-starter Chris Brown (300 rushing yards, 1 TD), who has been bothered by an ankle injury, should make his first appearance in over a month on Monday. When Young does throw it, wideout Roydell Williams (27 receptions, 1 TD) and tight end Bo Scaife (27 receptions, 1 TD) have been his most reliable targets.
After spending much of the year ranked last in the NFL against the run, Denver tightened the screws last week, allowing Kansas City to amass just 67 yards on 22 carries on the ground. In so doing, the Broncos moved ahead of the Jets into 31st place in league rushing defense (151 yards per game), and rank only ahead of the Raiders in yards allowed per carry (4.8). Linebackers D.J. Williams (75 tackles, 1 INT, 1 sack) and Ian Gold (51 tackles, 1 sack) combined for 13 tackles against the Chiefs, and rookie end Tim Crowder led a beleaguered front four with three stops. Safety Hamza Abdullah (17 tackles), a positive recent addition to the starting secondary, posted eight solo tackles and a forced fumble in the win. The strength of the Denver defense remains in the secondary, where Champ Bailey (49 tackles, 2 INT) and Dre' Bly (30 tackles, 3 INT) preside at corner and free safety John Lynch (22 tackles, 1 sack) is set to return from a neck injury this week. The Broncos are currently eighth in NFL passing defense (197.3 yards per game), though their 19 sacks are middle of the league pack. Elvis Dumervil (21 tackles, 8 sacks, 1 INT) continues to lead Denver in sacks.
WHEN THE BRONCOS HAVE THE BALL
One of Monday's top storylines could be snuffed out before it begins, as current Bronco and ex-Titans running back Travis Henry (580 rushing yards, 1 TD) is battling both a knee problem and the NFL office. Henry, who rushed for 1,546 yards as a member of the Titans in 2005-06 before being released in the offseason, could begin serving a one-year suspension for a repeat violation of the NFL substance abuse policy if his reported appeal of the test results is not upheld. If he doesn't go, Henry will again be replaced by rookie Selvin Young (331 rushing yards, 1 TD, 21 receptions), who carried 20 times for a career-high 109 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City last week. Also questionable for Monday is Cutler's top receiver, Javon Walker (19 receptions), who has missed four games with a knee problem of his own. Brandon Marshall (51 receptions, 2 TD) has been Cutler's go-to guy in Walker's absence, and had six catches for 85 yards against Kansas City. Tight end Tony Scheffler (20 receptions, 2 TD) turned in four grabs for 31 yards in the win.
The Tennessee defense enters Monday's contest with a couple of pressing injury concerns. Tackle and NFL Defensive Player of the Year candidate Albert Haynesworth (30 tackles, 5 sacks) is regarded as questionable after missing last week's loss to Jacksonville with a hamstring injury, while cornerback Nick Harper (49 tackles, 2 INT) might not be able to go due to a concussion suffered last week. Reynaldo Hill (4 tackles) would start in Harper's place. With Haynesworth out of the lineup last week, a Titans defense that had ranked No. 1 in the league against the run surrendered 166 ground yards to Jacksonville, including 101 on 19 carries for Maurice-Jones Drew. Linebackers David Thornton (69 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and Keith Bulluck (45 tackles) combined for 18 tackles in the game. Tennessee is seventh in the league against the pass (192.7 yards per game) as Week 11 begins, and their 13 interceptions are near the top of the NFL chart as well. The linebacker Bulluck has four of those picks, three of which came in a Monday night win over the Saints in Week 3.
The status of both Henry and Haynesworth should be key to fantasy managers in this game. If Henry is out, owners of Selvin Young will want to take a long look at starting the rookie, and if Haynesworth isn't around to occupy space in the trenches, putting Young in the lineup becomes a no-brainer. The other running back, White, is a must-start given the problems the Broncos have experienced stopping the run this year. No one in the Tennessee passing game is worth starting, and Denver's Cutler and Marshall are marginal starters in most leagues. Both kickers merit starting status, especially the Titans' Rob Bironas, who led the NFL in made field goals (22) and points (82) as Week 11 began.
It appeared that the light came on for the Broncos last week, when they displayed a renewed enthusiasm on defense and struck a good offensive balance in an encouraging road win at Kansas City. Denver still has its problems, most notably with injuries throughout the two-deep and with an inconsistent defense, but there is enough talent on this team to make a serious playoff run a reality. What that journey will require is for the Broncos to win their home games down the stretch, a directive that has rarely been a problem for Denver in the past. Look for the home crowd to give the team a lift on Monday night, for Vince Young to make some of his customary mistakes, and for Mike Shanahan's team to end the evening as a .500 football team.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Broncos 28, Titans 24
Re: Monday Night Football
Tennessee at Denver on Monday Night Football
The Tennessee Titans will travel to Denver to take on the Broncos on Monday Night Football. The oddsmakers have made the point spread as Denver -2.
QB Vince Young had a career best in attempts (41) and yards (257) but it hardly solved the Titans offensive woes. He finally threw a scoring pass but also threw two interceptions.
RB LenDale White (eight carries for 12 yards) did absolutely nothing against a resolute Jaguars defense determined to make up for an opening-day debacle. Young managed 52 yards on eight carries, a positive development that did little to spark the offense. Young is struggling in the passing game and has only thrown four touchdown passes while tossing 10 interceptions this year. Young has also struggled with injuries and has only 2 rushing touchdowns.
Dropped off without Albert Haynesworth, who was out with a hamstring injury. The Titans got only one sack of QB Quinn Gray after 12 sacks in their last two games. The secondary did well to prevent anything of length as the Jags didn't connect on anything longer than 13 yards.
Missed Haynesworth against a run game that was determined to set the tone and gave up 166 rushing yards, a season high. Missed tackles and assignments were costly against RBs Maurice Jones-Drew and Fred Taylor.
Priest Holmes had 65 yards on 20 carries, with no gains longer than 11 yards. The Broncos hadn't played the run well very often this season, so even though Holmes was making his first start in two years, a great performance was not a given.
Denver had some problems. A blocked punt was the reason Kansas City led 8-6 in the first half. Penalties by the special teams contributed to the constantly poor field position in the second half. However, Denver had a very good day covering kicks, which helped the defense in its big day.
The Broncos hadn't gone on the road and beat Kansas City since 2002. And this year's Denver team was 3-5 with a two-game losing streak. The coaching staff did a good job getting the players focused and using the mediocre AFC West as a motivation for turning the season around. As it stands, the Broncos are 4-5 but only a game out of first place.
Tennessee has won 20 of 33 vs. Denver but haven't met since 2004 when the Broncos prevailed 37-16.
Denver is 31st in the league against the run and Tennessee will be missing a few starters on defense. Defensive tackle, Haynesworth and cornerback Nick Harper are expected to miss the contest. This could turn in to an offensive shootout so there could be some value in the over 38.