On Saturday, the defending Super Bowl Champions the New England Patriots begin their postseason journey to repeating as the NFL Champs by hosting the surprising Tennessee Titans. New England is a huge favorite in this game and has the advantage in just about every aspect. Can the Titans pull off the biggest postseason upset in recent memory or will the Patriots head to another AFC Championship game? Kickoff inside Gillette Stadium is at 8:15 PM ET.
In the Tennessee era, the Patriots are 7-1 all-time against the Titans. They’ve played one postseason game and that was back in 2004, where the Patriots won 17-14. New England has won 6 straight games over the Titans and the two last met back in 2015 where the Patriots won 33-16. New England is a perfect 5-0 all-time at home against the Titans.
Tennessee (10-7) stunned the AFC West champs last weekend as they went into Arrowhead Stadium and defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21. The Titans were down 21-3 at half time and came back to win behind a smash mouth running game and a smothering defense. Can they repeat that performance this weekend against the mighty Patriots?
New England (13-3) finished the regular season with a 6-2 home record and 3 straight wins overall. They are a huge favorite this weekend and appear to be destined for a home tilt against the Steelers in the AFC Conference title game. Will the Patriots blow out the Titans and rest starters at the end of the game as some pundits predict?
The spread opened with the Patriots favored by 13.5 points and the Over/Under at 47 total points. Currently, both lines remain unchanged.
On paper, this game looks lopsided. It’s like a David vs Goliath matchup. But, you can’t completely dismiss the Titans who have a playoff formula of running the ball and playing solid defense. Last weekend, the Titans produced 397 total yards against a Chiefs defense that had a 21-3 lead. They rode Derrick Henry who had 156 rushing yards. I mean, things were so crazy for the Titans against the Chiefs that QB Marcus Mariota was able to throw a touchdown pass to himself. Yes, you read that right.
But, I have to point out that there were some terrible calls by the refs that really helped the Titans that game. In fact, when the main ref retires after the game, you know that he and his team did a poor job. Bottom line, the Titans had a lot of help and luck last weekend. All of that stops now.
The Titans feature the #4 ranked rush defense who shut down the NFL’s leading rusher Kareem Hunt last weekend. The Chiefs RB only managed to tally 42 rushing yards. However, the Titans did give up 264 passing yards to Alex Smith and he’s no Tom Brady. So, even if the Titans can hold New England’s running backs in check this weekend, they still have to contend with “The GOAT.”
Brady finished the year with the most passing yards in the league at 4,577. He also had a 4-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio with 32 TD passes and 8 interceptions. Behind Brady, the Patriots offense finished 1st with 394.2 net total ypg, 2nd with 276.1 net passing ypg, and 2nd with 28.6 points per game.
The Titans defense allows 22.3 ppg and finished 25th against the pass at 239.3 net ypg. Last weekend, the Chiefs scored 21 points and had over 260 passing yards. After looking at the numbers, it’s clear that the Patriots have a major advantage in their passing game against the Titans pass defense. And, I believe this is how they will win the game.
I expect Tom Brady to surpass 300 yards and 3 touchdowns in this game. Look for Gronk to have a big game as well. KC’s TE Travis Kelce was tearing up the Titans defense before being knocked out of the game with a concussion. Look for Gronk to own the middle of the field, which will open up the sidelines for receivers Amendola, Cooks and Hogan.
Defensively, the Patriots have the corners to play man against the Titans average receivers with Butler and Gilmore. I expect New England to do what they do best, scheme to take away the Titans strength – their run game. With that said, they will force Mariota to beat them by throwing the ball. He had a shaky game last weekend and he will have a worse game this weekend. New England will pull away in the second half and cruise to a big lead. New England wins 31-13.
New England is 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games, 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games, 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games against the Titans and 4-1 ATS in their last 4 games at home against the Titans. Tennessee is 7-14 ATS in their last 21 road games, 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games versus AFC East teams, and 12-23 ATS against AFC opponents.