|Jets-Titans offer early AFC showdown in Music City|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 20 November 2008 12:29|
They can change all that Sunday against the New York Jets.
The NFL's last unbeaten team goes up against the AFC East-leading Jets (7-3) in what very well could be a playoff preview, with the winner taking a step toward home-field advantage come January.
``This team is three games behind us,'' Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck said. ``They win, they're only two games behind us. We're still trying to win as many games and build this cushion and try to solidify something in January.''
The Jets are riding high themselves, winners of four straight and six of their last seven. They couldn't be more confident after beating the New England Patriots 34-31 in overtime on Nov. 13 in Foxborough, a victory that earned them a five-day break.
``You're starting to see more and more confidence from a team standpoint that, `Hey, you know, we can be pretty good,''' Jets quarterback Brett Favre said. ``And I think that game, more than any game this year, probably did more for us in those respects than any game throughout the year.''
They also want to see exactly where they stand themselves.
``Right now, every game is big,'' Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said. ``We're trying to get more and more momentum and go from there.''
If this game didn't have enough drama attached, it also will be only the third time in NFL history a regular-season game has featured starting quarterbacks with more than 100,000 yards passing combined. Favre has 63,892 yards in his career and Kerry Collins has 36,472 yards himself.
Both are playing well. Favre is third in the AFC with 18 touchdowns and has not been intercepted in the past two games. Collins has thrown for 519 yards with five TDs and only one interception in the past two games.
``I can remember playing against Kerry in the championship game in '96, I think. Here we are facing off again. I mean, it's rare. But I give him a lot of credit,'' Favre said.
Favre also has a chance to break a tie with Dan Marino for wins by a starting quarterback in the most NFL stadiums (31). Favre lost in LP Field in his only previous visit here in 2001 with Green Bay. But Titans coach Jeff Fisher respects the veteran so much that he deflected a question about his team having a slight chance to clinch a playoff berth this early.
ull. Despite the fact that we've played them the last couple years, they're different. They have a different quarterback under center that makes them special so we're going to direct all of our attention to the New York Jets this Sunday at home,'' Fisher said.
The Titans have been criticized for playing a weak schedule, with wins over only two teams currently over .500, and the Jets easily have the best record of any team they will play until Week 16, when Pittsburgh visits. The Titans have been pushed harder each week and had to rally from their biggest deficit this season at 14-3 to beat Jacksonville 24-14 last week.
Center Kevin Mawae, who played eight seasons with the Jets before being cut in 2005, said the Titans are frustrated they haven't played their best for an entire game yet.
``We know we're not perfect. We're not playing like the best team in the league. We just happen to have the best record in the league. We're going to go out and try to defend that this week,'' he said.
These teams know each other well, with this being the Jets' third straight season to visit Nashville. Jets coach Eric Mangini said his Jets understand what atmosphere to expect Sunday in the Titans' 101st consecutive sellout.
The Titans and Jets also are very similar.
Both can run well, with New York's Thomas Jones leading the AFC with 854 yards and trying to rush for 100 yards in a third straight game, while Titans rookie Chris Johnson ranks second in the conference with 787 yards. They stop the run effectively, with the Jets having held four teams below 50 yards rushing and allowing an average of 81.3 yards per game. Tennessee gives up 95.1.
Defense likely will be the difference.
Collins has been sacked only five times and has only four interceptions. Favre has been sacked 19 times, and he was intercepted eight times during a four-game stretch earlier this season. The Titans are tied with Baltimore at an AFC-best 15 interceptions.
They also might have end Kyle Vanden Bosch back from a groin injury that hasn't allowed him to finish a game since September. Vanden Bosch has three sacks in his limited play after having 12 last season.
``I've had five straight bye weeks,'' Vanden Bosch said. ``My body feels good. As long as this leg holds up, hopefully it'll look like I was shot out of a cannon on Sunday.''