The Tennessee Titans are already familiar with being dismissed and overlooked. Going into the Wild Card round against the suddenly hot Kansas City Chiefs nobody gave the eight and a half point underdog Titans much of a chance of winning. After a sluggish start and trailing 21-3, the Titans pinned their ears back on defense and held the high octane Chiefs offense to a second half shutout and rallied to a 22-21 upset. Next up, the 13 and a half point favorite New England Patriots.
It’s well established that New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady has had a lot of success against the Titans. Brady is 5-1 against the Titans in his career with a mind-boggling 1,461 yards to go with 12 touchdowns and one interception. In their last meeting in 2015 the Patriots came away victorious 33-16 extending the Patriots dominance as the Titans fell to 3-11 on a forgettable season. This isn’t the same Patriots team that has plagued the Titans in prior seasons. As the last third of the season showed something hasn’t been quite right with the Patriots offense and it all starts with Brady. Mentally, Brady is as sharp as he has ever been but the offense looks out of sync and vulnerable. However, the Patriots still have Brady under center and head coach Bill Belichick is still managing the games on the sidelines. Tennessee still certainly has their hands full this Saturday night.
How The Titans Win This Saturday
The Titans have already proven they are a tough, gritty team that isn’t going to back down just because the vaunted New England Patriots are lining up across from them. There are quite a few things the Titans do well that will help them this weekend. Tennessee boasts a stout rush defense. On the season the Titans rank first in rushing touchdowns allowed this season, allowing only five. Tennessee also ranks fourth in rush yards per game allowed allowing only 1420 yards on the season. Tennessee also boasts a lethal pass rush, finishing the season with 43 sacks, which is tied for fifth in the NFL. It’s considered common knowledge that the best way to contain Brady is to make sure he is never comfortable in the pocket and able to get into a rhythm. Tennessee’s pass rush is certainly capable of making Brady have to get rid of the ball in a hurry. If the Titans can get after Brady and take away the Patriots running attack led by Dion Lewis then it could be a long night for Brady and the Patriots offense.
In the game against the Chiefs, particularly in the second half, the Titans struggling offense seemed to finally click as they scored 19 unanswered points. Quarterback Marcus Mariota was finally able to move around in the pocket effectively and was also able to pass the ball with good accuracy and efficiency. Mariota finished the day completing 19 of 31 passes for 205 yards along with two touchdowns and an interception. Setting the edge and opening up the play action pass will be crucial for the young Titans’ quarterback. If Mariota is able to make plays with his arms and his legs the Tennessee offense could put up enough points against New England’s vulnerable defense to keep up with New England’s high powered attack.
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Tennessee will have a good chance to win this game if second year running back Derrick Henry is able to build upon his wild card performance against the Chiefs. Henry finished the game punishing the Chiefs defense with 23 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. If Henry is able to run with the same efficiency and purpose he ran with against the Chiefs the Tennessee Titans may very well shock the world and advance to the AFC Championship game against either the Pittsburgh Steelers or division rival Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kickoff for this game takes place at 8:15 EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts.