When you schedule Monday Night Football games eight months in advance, there are bound to be some missteps along the way.
Lining up the New York Jets and Tennessee Titans in prime time was one of them.
Two painfully disappointing teams square off in Nashville in Week 15 in front of a prime-time audience. The pairing feels more like a public shaming than a football game.
Rex Ryan in stocks?
Yeah, I admit. I'd pay to see that.
Here's everything you need to know about the game.
What it Means
For the Jets, what slim playoff hopes they have could well rest on the outcome of this game or possibly the Mayan apocalypse.
New York needs wins and a little help in order to display to the world that the AFC is such a terrible conference that even Mark Sanchez can guide a team to the postseason in it.
The Titans are playing for Mike Munchak's job. His personal slope has gotten slippier with each disappointing loss.
Playing in prime time is one final chance for the team to declare that, while the season has been a disappointment, the overall direction of the franchise is sound.
So, yes, good luck with that.
Stat That Matters
Neither one of these teams protects the ball well. The Titans rank 26th in turnovers with 26 and the Jets rank 29th with 28.
If you are looking for a reason they are a combined 10-16 on the season, that would be Exhibit A.
In seven losses, the Jets have 19 turnovers.
In nine losses, the Titans have 23.
It's hard to win games in which you hand over the football twice a game.
Biggest Advantage for the Titans
We're past the point where it's reasonable to expect Chris Johnson to show up in any given game, but he does actually display flashes of his considerable talent on occasion.
The Jets run defense isn't nearly as formidable as it once was, and they are giving up over 4.4 yards a carry on the season. Muhammad Wilkerson is having a dominant year in run defense, but if you can block him, the rest of the line is suspect.
Tennessee has shown no commitment to run the ball all year, but given the strong Jets pass defense, it only makes sense to pound the ball as much as possible.
If the Titans can get Johnson going, they have a strong likelihood of winning as the Jets have scored 20 points in just five of 13 games all year.
Three touchdowns is all it takes to beat New York most weeks.
Biggest Advantage for the Jets
New York lost Darrelle Revis for the season due to injury, but its pass defense is still sixth in DVOA. They don't force many interceptions, but they still have Antonio Cromartie in the secondary, and he's having a strong season.
The Titans have played a high-risk, low-efficiency passing game with Jake Locker, and that won't fly against the Jets.
If New York can sustain drives on offense against a weak Titans defense, they'll put pressure on Locker to pass the Titans to victory.
That is something he hasn't done much of this season. The Titans are 1-6 when Locker attempts 30 passes.
If the Titans take to the air, the Jets will win.
Best Video Only Tangentially Related to the Game
Yeah, this is a little horrifying, I have to admit. Language NSFW.
The Jets are desperate for a win, knowing their season is functionally over if they don't get one.
It's impossible to watch the Titans without getting the sense that they are a much better team than what they've shown.
At this point, there's just not much reason to expect success from Sanchez on the road.
Then again, there's hasn't been much reason to take the Titans, either.
This game is the lump of coal in your Christmas stocking of nationally televised games, so everything about it screams long, unwatchable mess culminating in a grueling overtime period, highlighted by missed field goals, dropped passes and coaching mistakes.
There's only one way this can end.
Titans 17 Jets 17
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