Is Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson Peaking at Just the Right Time?

Daniel BarnesCorrespondent IIIDecember 10, 2011

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 04:  Chris Johnson #28 of the Tennessee Titans runs  in the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 4, 2011 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

Chris Johnson is finally starting to consistently put up good numbers, and it's about time. Johnson caught a lot of criticism early in the season when he wasn't producing, despite a new $50 million contract.

Chris Johnson started the season averaging just over two yards per carry, and that took its toll on the Titans offensively. Since the game against Carolina, however, Johnson has had 100-yard games (the Titans won all three of those) and has averaged over five yards per carry.

Over the last four games, Johnson has rushed for 486 yards, more than half his total for the season.

Now, with the Titans chasing a playoff spot, Kenny Britt injured, Nate Washington also trying to work through an ankle injury and the team needing to get to 10 wins, Johnson couldn't be producing at a better time.

For the Titans to get that elusive 10th win, they will need an upset win over either the Texans or the Saints.

The Saints have a pretty poor pass defense (ranked 30th in the league), but with the Titans first and second receivers sitting out, passing on them will still be difficult.

Their run defense is average (ranked 16th), so if Chris Johnson keeps up the good work, he ought to have a good game against them. They'll need it if they want to win.

As bad as the Saints are on defense, they're phenomenal on offense. The Saints rush attack ranks eighth in the league, and their pass offense ranks first in total yardage. The Saints will score a lot of points on the Titans, and so Chris Johnson will be carrying a lot on his shoulders.

The Texans are in the opposite predicament. They've lost their starting quarterback and his first backup. Add to that the fact that Arian Foster and Andre Johnson have been fighting injuries all season as well and the Texans offense is looking questionable. The Titans will be able to hold them to way fewer than 41 points this time around.

However, the Texans are stacked on defense. The Houston defense is ranked third against the pass and fourth against the rush. While the Titans might have Nate Washington back by then, without Kenny Britt, it'll be hard to pass on the Texans defense.

Again, Chris Johnson will need to have a big game if the Titans want to score on the Texans.

Would it have been better if Johnson had produced sooner? Of course. In fact, it could've been the difference maker in a couple of close losses (like Cincinnati, Atlanta or Jacksonville). However, the Titans are still in the playoff hunt, so if you had to pick a time for Johnson to finally start looking like CJ2K again, now is a pretty good time.

If Johnson keeps it up, the Titans will get to the playoffs. He may not have had a $50 million season, but at the rate he's going, it won't be a bad one.