Week 15: 6-7 New York Titans New Jersey Jets at 4-9 Houston Oilers Tennessee Titans
8:30 p.m. on espn
Line: Titans are favored by one most places, after opening as 2½-point favorites. MGM Mirage has brought the line down to a pick-em, while only Stations still has Tennessee by 1½ as of Monday afternoon.
Total: 41½ most places, after opening at 42½

Last Week: Jets 17, Jaguars 10 and Colts 27, Titans 23
Last Meeting: Jets 24, Titans 17 in week 3 of 2009; Mark Sanchez threw two touchdown passes and ran for another.
Last Meeting in Nashville: Jets won 34-13 in week 12 of 2008; Brett Favre threw two touchdowns and a pick; Chris Johnson was held to 46 yards rushing while Thomas Jones ran for 96 and Leon Washington ran for 82.

The Jets were blown out by the Pats 49-19 on Thanksgiving in the bumble game and looked like they were toast. Since then they have won twice by a combined total of 8 points against Arizona and Jacksonville to keep their playoff hopes alive. Tennessee seems headed in the opposite direction. Since beating Pittsburgh and Buffalo to improve to 3-4 the Titans have lost five out of six games, including the last three in a row. Most of the games in that span have been close; they lost the Colts by 6, Jacksonville by 5, and the Colts again, by 4.

Playoff Implications: for the Jets it is simple; if they lose they are eliminated. They really needed Philadelphia to beat Cincinnati last Thursday and that did not happen; even if they run the table they are still going to need some help. The Jets cannot get into the postseason at 8-8 since the Colts already have nine wins, and if both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh finish at .500 then the Steelers would beat the Jets on a tiebreaker.

However, if the Jets can make it to 9-7 then one more loss each from the 7-7 Steelers (vs Bengals, vs Browns) and 8-6 Bengals (at Steelers, vs Ravens) would get them to the playoffs; they could also get in if they win out while the 9-5 Colts lose both of their games (at Kansas City, home vs Houston).

Should the Jets lose it will guarantee back-to-back non-winning seasons; that has not happened since the short-lived Rich Kotite era in 1995-96. Next week they are at home against the Chargers, and then end the season at Buffalo.

Tennessee is eliminated but is trying to avoid finishing in last place; they are two wins ahead of Jacksonville. Mike Munchak is on the hot seat in his second year as head coach, and offensive coordinator Chris Palmer was fired after losing to the Jaguars. A six win-season would shoo the vultures away; next week the Titans are at Green Bay and then they are home against Jacksonville on December 30.

Key Matchup I: Titans WR Kenny Britt vs Jets CB Antonio Cromartie
Last week Britt had his best game of the season, hauling in eight catches for 143 yards. Britt’s knees are still not 100% recovered from ACL surgery in September of 2011, and Cromartie is having an excellent season. Given the Jets’ incompetence on offense though, all Tennessee may need from Britt is one or two timely plays.

Key Matchup II: Titans C Kevin Matthews vs Jets DL Mo Wilkerson
Matthews made his first NFL start last week, and Wilkerson is by far the Jets best defensive lineman. If the pocket can be collapsed then that’s trouble for Tennessee. Jake Locker has 13 turnovers (nine picks, four fumbles) in just eight games; nine of those have come in the last three games. Right now he seems more capable moving out of the pocket to make plays with his legs.

Also keep an eye on Jets WR Braylon Edwards; at 6-3, 214 he may be a tough matchup for 5-10, 187 Alterraun Verner. Jeremy Kerley is the Jets top receiver and Edwards is their #3, but I would think Rex Ryan would prefer for Sanchez to throw at Verner rather than Jason McCourty.

The Titans would love to be able to run the ball, but their offensive line is a mess right now. After running for 267 yards in two games, Chris Johnson’s productivity has evaporated: he has only 95 yards on 32 carries the last two weeks. The Jets are allowing 4.4 yards per carry (21st) and 137 yards per game (29th), so this may be just what the doctor ordered.

Of course the Jets would prefer to run the ball rather than rely on Sanchez, who has fumbled the ball 11 times (though only 2 were lost) and has thrown 12 picks this year. Shonn Greene is only averaging 3.8 yards per carry, but it would make sense to give him the ball against the Titans’ run defense that ranks 25th in yards per game (127). Even though the Titans are allowing 251 passing yards per game (27th), a 68% completion rate (dead last), and 7.5 yards per pass (24th), do you really trust Sanchez to win it for you?

Prediction: Titans 20, Jets 17



This Day In Patriots History


December 17, 1961:
Boston Patriots 41, San Diego Chargers 0 at Balboa Stadium

The 1961 playoff race came down to the final weekend and the Patriots did their part, crushing the 12-win Chargers. Unfortunately for the Pats at the same time the Oilers beat the Raiders to win the AFL East. The Pats finished the season with a 9-3-1 record – one game behind the Oilers, who went on to beat the Chargers 10-3 the following week for their second straight AFL championship.

Don Webb had a 31-yard interception return for a touchdown that gave the Pats a 17-0 1st quarter lead, and capped off the scoring in the 4th quarter when he ran a blocked punt back 20 yards for a TD. Webb led the AFL in non-offensive touchdowns in 1961 with four. Overall the Pats intercepted five passes: two by Fred Bruney, and one each by Tom Addison, Clyde Washington, and Webb.

Babe Parilli threw touchdown passes of 33 yards to Jim Colclough (78 yards receiving) and 7 yards to Gino Cappelletti (88 yards receiving). Cappelletti also kicked two field goals and five extra points,; he led the league with 17 field goals and 147 points scored, making the second team All-AFL team that year. Fullback Billy Lott scored on a 5-yard run and finished with 94 yards rushing.


December 17, 1966:
New York Jets 38, Boston Patriots 28 at Shea Stadium

This is the day that launched my disdain for the Jets. The Pats were 8-3-1 entering the final weekend; a victory against the perennial cellar dweller Jets, and the Pats win the AFL East. That would set up a title game against the Chiefs, a team the Pats had battled to a tie in Kansas City four weeks earlier. A win in that game and the Patriots would get to play in the first-ever AFL-NFL Championship Game, something that would soon become known as the Super Bowl.

The poof, all those childhood dreams were gone. The Pats lost and Buffalo beat the Broncos the next day to win the AFL east title.

Second-year quarterback Joe Namath threw for 287 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, Matt Snell and Emerson Boozer both ran for over 100 yards, and the Pats turned the ball over three times. When Don Maynard (129 yards) caught his second touchdown pass in the third quarter the Jets went up 24-7. The Pats needed to air it out to catch up, but that took the ball out of the hands of MVP Jim Nance, who did run for a touchdown that cut the deficit to 31-21, but was limited to 78 yards rushing. Gino Cappelletti finished with 8 receptions for 111 yards and one touchdown for the Pats.


December 17, 1967:
Miami Dolphins 41, Boston Patriots 32 at the Orange Bowl

The Pats moved the ball well, gaining a total of 470 yards, but six turnovers (and no takeaways) were the deciding factor. Jim Nance ran for 164 yards and two touchdowns; he finished with 1,216 yards rushing to lead the AFL in rushing for the second straight year. Jim Whalen had four receptions for 122 yards and Jim Colclough had three catches for 112 yards; rookie J.D. Garrett scored a touchdown when he recovered a fumble in the end zone. In the 4th quarter Babe Parilli threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to Bob Cappadona. For Cappadona it was his first pro touchdown reception; for Parilli it was his final touchdown pass as a member of the Patriots. The loss dropped the Pats to 3-10-1 and into last place in the AFL East, a half game behind the Dolphins and Bills.


December 17, 1972:
Denver Broncos 45, New England Patriots 21 at Mile High Stadium

Carl Garrett ran for touchdowns and Brian Dowling threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to Tom Reynolds, but the Pats defense had no solution to stopping Haven Moses and the Denver offense. After a 2-1 start the Patriots finished the season 3-11, 1-4 under mid-season replacement head coach Phil Bengston.


December 17, 1988:
Denver Broncos 21, New England Patriots 14 at Mile High Stadium

The Pats loss in Colorado coupled with a Browns win eliminated them from the playoffs on the final weekend of the 1988 season. John Stephens had a 52-yard run and finished with 130 yards on 17 carries; he also opened up scoring with a 23-yard run. Stephens was named to the Pro Bowl and was named the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year.



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December 17, 1843:
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was published

December 17, 1903:
Orville Wright and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina

December 17, 1939:
Eddie Kendricks (TheTemptations) was born in Birmingham

December 17, 1949:
Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company, The Firm) was born in Middlesborough

December 17, 2000:
Terrell Owens sets am NFL record with 20 receptions in a 17-0 49er win over the Bears

December 17, 2010:
Captain Beefheart died at the age of 69




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