National Football League
Jets-Titans Preview
National Football League

Jets-Titans Preview

Published Dec. 10, 2014 2:59 p.m. ET

With a combined 22 losses, the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans don't have much to play for down the stretch.

However, Sunday's matchup at LP Field will have extra significance for Jets running back Chris Johnson, who faces his former team for the first time since getting cut loose in April.

Johnson ran for 7,965 yards and 50 touchdowns during his six years with Tennessee to rank third in team history in both categories before the Titans let him go. Johnson, who was owed $8 million this season, went on to sign a two-year, $8 million deal with New York less than two weeks later.

"Going to the visitor's locking room, it's going to be kind of weird," said Johnson, averaging 4.5 yards per carry - just down from his career mark of 4.6 - while splitting carries with Chris Ivory. "It's definitely harder than what I expected, but its a situation where a lot of times stuff is out of your hands that you can't control, so I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I get."


Johnson posted his first 100-yard game in Week 13 against Miami, finishing with 105 on a season-high 17 attempts. He's only found the end zone twice, but the Titans know he's still a dangerous threat.

"If you give him an opportunity to hit the home run, he can do it," former teammate Michael Griffin said. "We have our work cut out for us. He's going to be geared up and ready to play and looking to prove to us and the organization it was mistake to let him go."

The Jets (2-11) are averaging 149.7 yards on the ground to rank second in the NFL, and they could be in for a big day against a Titans team that's been gashed for a league-worst 141.5 per game. Tennessee has allowed 173.0 while going 1-5 at home, the lone win a 16-14 victory over lowly Jacksonville in Week 6.

The Titans (2-11) have gone on to lose their last seven games by an average of 15.0 points, their longest skid since the 1994 Houston Oilers dropped 11 in a row. Tennessee is coming off one of its worst efforts of the season in last Sunday's 36-7 defeat to the New York Giants.

The Titans were outgained 402-207 and went 2 for 13 on third down.

"It's disappointing," tight end Delanie Walker said. "We've only won two games, and we're still playing the same way. We always say we're going to change, and nothing changes."

There could be a change under center with Zach Mettenberger listed as doubtful. The rookie, who's posted a passer rating of 86.7 while starting the last six games, aggravated a sprained shoulder when he was sacked for the fifth time last week.

"I'm not going to rule him out until I know for sure that he can't go," coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "We'll see as it progresses."

Jake Locker is expected to make his first start since Week 5 if Mettenberger can't play. Locker's rating of 71.1 is second lowest in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 130 attempts, ahead of only Geno Smith's mark of 68.0.

The Jets have dropped nine a row with Smith as their starter after a 30-24 overtime loss at Minnesota last Sunday. Smith, whose first pass was picked off and returned 27 yards for a touchdown, finished 18 of 29 for 254 yards and a TD.

He owns the second-worst touchdown-to-interception ratio in the league at 0.67.

"We believe that we're going to come out of this and be successful," Smith told the team's official website. "I can only focus on what I'm going through right here and right now. We've got three games left to improve and we've got to go out there and put it all on the line and do our jobs."

Smith could be without one of his favorite targets in Percy Harvin, who had six catches for 124 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings before exiting with a sprained ankle. However, star defensive tackle Muhammad Wilkerson could return after missing last week with turf toe.

Tennessee placed cornerback Blidi Wreh-Wilson on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, while safety Daimion Stafford is undergoing concussion protocol.

There hasn't been any word on the status of defensive lineman Sammie Hill, who's being investigated for a sexual assault allegation. He's started 12 games this season.

Tennessee is seeking a third consecutive win in the series after blowing out the Jets 38-13 on Sept. 29, 2013. Locker threw for 149 yards and a career-high three touchdowns before exiting with a hip injury.


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