The New York Jets and Tennessee Titans are perhaps two of the NFL's most surprising teams thus far with 2-1 records.
But also being two of the league's most-penalized clubs, the more disciplined team could very well be the one to improve to 3-1.
New York travels to Nashville on Sunday in a game that features the AFC's leading rushers in Chris Johnson and Bilal Powell.
The Jets have been called for the most penalties, averaging 11.3 for 93.0 yards per game. They committed a franchise-record 20 in Sunday's 27-20 win over Buffalo, becoming the first winning team penalized that many times since the Browns were charged with 21 while beating the Bears in 1951.
Coach Rex Ryan has installed a policy he hopes will deter his team's trend. After each penalty in practice, 10 push-ups are performed - by everyone, including Ryan himself - except for the player who committed the infraction.
"I want him to notice who he's affecting," Ryan said. "He's affecting all of us. I think that's where it's like, 'Oh, OK.' After you've done a few of those, you're like, 'Really, you got a penalty again?' And they'll get on each other."
Tennessee was called for 10 penalties for 110 yards in just the first half of its 20-17 win against San Diego. It was part of the reason the Titans, whose 31 penalties called against them are tied for third-most, needed a 94-yard game-winning drive, capped by Jake Locker's 34-yard scoring pass to Justin Hunter with 15 seconds remaining.
"We're going to harp on them, we're going to talk about them, we're going to learn from them, we're going to learn how to be smarter," coach Mike Munchak said.
While the Titans relied on late-game dramatics, penalties hamstrung the Jets in what was otherwise a dominant performance against the Bills. They totaled 513 yards, their most since 524 in a 34-20 loss to Baltimore on Dec. 24, 2000. The defense registered eight sacks for the first time since 1988.
Powell recorded career bests with 27 carries for 149 yards, pushing his season total to 226. He totaled 25 rushes in the first two games, but Chris Ivory left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury and will not play against Tennessee, leaving Powell firmly entrenched as the team's No. 1 back.
Johnson has yet to find the end zone but his 256 yards lead the AFC. The New York defense will likely be particularly wary of Johnson's speed after his 94-yard touchdown run - the longest in the league last year - in a 14-10 home victory over the Jets on Dec. 17.
New York committed five turnovers in that contest, something they've been troubled by this season with eight, the NFL's fourth-most. Tennessee is the only team besides Kansas City yet to commit one, tying the second-longest streak to start a season since 1950. The 1995 St. Louis Rams didn't commit a turnover until their fifth game.
Quarterback Geno Smith is responsible for all but one giveaway with six interceptions and one lost fumble, though he showed signs of improvement versus Buffalo. He was 16 of 29 for 331 yards - the most by a Jets rookie - two touchdowns and two picks. He also wasn't sacked after being dropped nine times in his first two starts.
"His communication and level of expertise is just getting better," right guard Willie Colon said. "I think it's important for us to get him in a rhythm, keep his confidence high and sky's the limit."
New York owns the league's seventh-best unit against the pass, limiting opponents to 190.3 yards per game, though Locker has already seen two of the NFL's top-three passing defenses in Houston and Pittsburgh. Locker, however, also appears to have more uncertainty in terms of his playmakers, particularly wide receiver Kenny Britt.
Britt has been targeted 16 times but has caught only five passes for 43 yards and was called for two penalties while failing to record a reception versus San Diego. He is nursing a cracked rib and a sore neck from a hit in last week's win and is listed as questionable.
"He's like anybody else," Munchak said. "We need him to continue to play better just like as an offense we have to play better."
Tight end Delanie Walker also is listed as questionable, though he took part in about 75 percent of practice Friday and expects to play with another day of rest
Shonn Greene - who ran for 3,423 yards and 18 TDs the last four years for the Jets before signing with the Titans as a free agent - said he will not play after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery last week.
New York cornerback Dee Milliner, the No. 9 overall pick in this year's draft, also will sit out due to a hamstring injury suffered in practice this week.
The Jets had won five of the previous six meetings prior to last season.
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