NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Titans face the New York Jets on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here's a look at six things to watch:
Give Mariota Time to Work
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been on a hot streak. He's completed 70.3 percent of his passes this season, and he's coming off a game when he was 22-of-23. But the guy needs time to operate. Mariota was sacked six times vs. the Texans, and he's been decked 35 times on the year. If Mariota has time, he could continue his success against the Jets. If not, it's going to make things more difficult for the Titans.
The Titans tight ends have made plays in recent weeks, with Jonnu Smith leading the way. Smith has touchdowns in three of the past four games, and on Sunday he has a chance to do something even Frank Wycheck and Delanie Walker never did. With a touchdown catch against the Jets, Smith would become the first tight end in the "Titans era" to record at least one touchdown reception four games in a five-game span.
The Titans allowed 281 yards on the ground against the Texans – more than the previous four games combined (261). When the Jets have had success this season, they've been able to run the football. Jets running back Isaiah Crowell has 582 yards and six touchdowns, with a 4.9-yard average. He exploded for 219 yards in a game against the Broncos earlier this season. The Titans can't let it happen on Sunday.
The Titans jumped out to a 10-0 lead in Houston, but it was short-lived. This Sunday, the start is key. The Titans want to be able to run the football, and playing with the game under control – with a lead – would allow them to do that. Get Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis going and it takes pressure off the offense, and helps in pass protection, and play-action. The Jets are ranked 27th in rushing yards allowed per game.
Get Some Turnovers
It's time. It's time for the Titans to make some game-changing plays on defense, with sacks and turnovers. The Titans did a better job pressuring Deshaun Watson last week compared to Andrew Luck the previous week, but the team hasn't been able to create turnovers. The Titans haven't intercepted a pass since Kevin Byard's pick in Dallas, and they haven't recovered a fumble since linebacker Wesley Woodyard against the Cowboys. Will that change on Sunday? The Titans have talked a lot about it this week.
The Titans will welcome back over 80 former players for Homecoming weekend at Nissan Stadium, and the group includes former running back Chris Johnson. Johnson will serve as the Honorary 12th Titan at Sunday's game. Johnson will plant the sword in the ground prior to kickoff, and at the half the players will be recognized. It's a good group, from Jevon Kearse to Albert Haynesworth to Kevin Dyson to Drew Bennett to Keith Bulluck, and many more.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series between the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)