Coming off of arguably his best game as a rookie, Marcus Mariota leads the Tennessee Titans (3-9) into the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets (7-5). The Titans and Jets are headed in opposite directions with the latter vying for a playoff spot, but Tennessee has showed the ability to put up points in a hurry.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing well of late, having thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions in his past two games, so he'll look to keep up that tear this week against the Titans. At 7-5, the Jets are in position for a wild-card berth, but they can't afford to overlook any teams going forward.
Here are three keys to the game for both the Titans and the Jets.
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1. Be aggressive early
The Jets are coming off an emotional overtime win over their cross-town rivals. That creates the potential for a letdown this week. The Titans should look to capitalize by being aggressive from the start with big play attempts. The Titans can set themselves up nicely if they manage to catch the Jets off guard and grab an early lead.
2. Go back to DGB
Dorial Green-Beckham had a breakout performance against Jacksonville, catching five passes for a team-leading 119 yards and a touchdown. His emergence was a welcome development for Marcus Mariota and the Titans, who are searching for a reliable receiving option other than tight end Delanie Walker. With Walker expected to attract plenty of attention from the Jets' defense, the rookie warrants more targets this week.
3. Secondary must step up
Tennessee's cornerbacks allowed Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles to throw for 322 yards and five touchdowns in last Sunday's loss to the Jaguars. After the game, interim head coach Mike Mularkey said his corners were guessing too often in coverage. That can't happen against the Jets, who have a pair of receivers in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker coming off 100-yard games. Per the Tennessean, the Titans, who were ranked third in the NFL in pass defense earlier in the year, averaging 197.9 yards per game, are now giving up an average of 276.4 yards per game in five games under Mularkey. Tennessee's corners Perrish Cox and Coty Sensabaugh need to put forth a more disciplined effort or the Jets will another have big day throwing the ball.
1. Keep feeding Brandon Marshall the ball
Brandon Marshall was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against the New York Giants, and rightfully so. He caught 12 passes for 131 yards and the game-tying touchdown, helping lift the Jets to victory. He's been the Jets' most reliable receiver this season and it should continue to stay that way. Good things happen when Ryan Fitzpatrick gets Marshall the ball, so doing just that against the Titans will only benefit the Jets.
2. Contain Marcus Mariota in the pocket
Marcus Mariota busted an 87-yard run last week -- the longest in the league this season -- though he hasn't been a huge running threat as a rookie. However, he may have gained some confidence after that long run and is still a threat to take off on any play. The Jets' linebackers have struggled this season, so it'll be key for the defensive line to contain him and keep him in the pocket. Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson could have a hard time getting him on the ground, but if they do, it'll help the Jets beat the Titans.
3. Take shots deep on offense
The Jets have two big receivers in Marshall and Eric Decker, both of whom have the ability to make plays deep down the field. Fitzpatrick isn't the best deep-ball thrower, but with the size of Marshall and Decker on the outside, it's worth taking shots downfield against the Titans, who allow the third-highest yards per attempt in the league. Big plays can be made, New York just has to make them happen.