By Charles Jay

When: 7:30 PM ET, Saturday, August 12, 2017

Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, NJ

Betting Line: Titans -3 Total: 36.5

 

The Tennessee Titans are pretty well taken care of at the quarterback position, but with as far as the New York Jets are concerned, it is anything BUT that. There are many people around the New York area, and around the NFL in general, who are projecting that the Jets could have the worst record in all of pro football this season. Big Apple writers are actually suggesting that an 0-16 finish could be in the offing. Perhaps these are exaggerations, but that's the way it's going to sound when a team does the kind of purge the Jets did in the off-season.

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At this moment, they have no idea who is going to lead the team, either this season or beyond. Head coach Todd Bowles is somewhat prepared to take the rap, although if the Jets fail badly, you can probably point to the front office.

The Titans are coming off a season where they made a lot of progress toward becoming a playoff squad. Coach Mike Mularkey instituted an attack that was heavy on the ground game, and his team finished with a 9-7 record. What put a damper on it was the injury to quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Heisman Trophy winner, toward the end of the campaign.

ABOUT THE TITANS: Mariota fractured his right fibula on Christmas Eve, and so he has been rehabilitating in the off-season. He's also dropped some weight, so that he doesn't have to put so much pressure on the leg. That's not a bad thing, because it will make him even more mobile, and that is one of the characteristics that can make him special for years to come.  Mariota ran for 349 yards on a 5.8-yard average last year, and while he threw for 26 touchdowns, he was intercepted only nine times in 451 attempts. What he really needed was a little more explosiveness in his receiver corps, so the Titans went out and drifted two wideouts in the first three rounds, including first-rounder Corey Davis of Western Michigan, who had prolific numbers in the Mid-American Conference and went with the fifth overall selection. Davis, who was a contract holdout for a short period, has been dealing with a hamstring injury in camp, and so he will likely be held out of this game. Another very sharp rookie keep an eye on is Adoree Jackson of USC, the other first-round pick, who could make for a very formidable tandem with former New England Patriot Logan Ryan at the corner positions. Jonathan Cyprien, a coming star, was signed as a free agent to take up one of the safety positions. If these guys improve in the secondary, look out. 

ABOUT THE JETS: Here is a team that got rid of a lot of veteran leadership in the off-season. Eric Decker, a wide receiver who was especially valuable in red zone situations, was sent packing, just when it was clear he was making progress from the hip and shoulder injuries he suffered last year. David Harris, the inspirational leader on the defensive side, was also let go, and was picked up by New England. Brandon Marshall will be playing at MetLife Stadium this season, but for the New York Giants. And it has been said that he wasn't a very good influence on the locker room last year. Finding someone to play quarterback is a big priority. Josh McCown is the "default" guy, but Jets' management is obviously hoping the Christian Hackenberg, the second-year man out of Penn State, can snatch the job for himself. The problem is that this coaching staff did not have enough confidence in him to play him even a single down last season. And he has not necessarily opened a lot of eyes at camp. Will he have that "deer in the headlights" look about him? He has been known to hold the ball little too long, and got sacked a lot in college. Whatever the case, McCown, Hackenberg and Bryce Petty will all see action in this game, as Bowles tries to figure out which way he's going to go in time for the season opener.

EXTRA POINTS

1. The Titans were not only third in the NFL in rushing yards last season, they also allowed the second fewest yards on the ground. 

2. Eric Decker, released by a Jets team that was already short on talent, has wound up in the employ of the Titans, so he will see action right away against his former team. 

3. The Jets posted a minus-20 turnover differential last year, which was tied for worst in the NFL. 

4. No team was worse in the red zone than the Jets were in 2016, as they scored an average of just 3.7 points per appearance. 

5. The Titans had the third-best percentage of third down conversions last season, making good on 46.1% of all attempts. 

PREDICTION: Titans 24, Jets 13