The Tennessee Titans will travel to Foxborough, Massachusetts to take on the Patriots. This divisional round matchup will kick off at 8:15 PM/ET.
The Patriots are coming off their first-round bye. Having rested an extra week, New England looks primed to defend their Super Bowl title. Outside of Pittsburgh and New England, the AFC playoffs are lacking in their level of talent compared to the NFC teams this postseason. The Patriots come into this game as heavy favorites, and while that’s probably an accurate assessment of this situation there are several reasons to believe that the Titans will pose a formidable challenge to New England.
The Titans are coming off a somewhat surprising upset and few would have expected the Tenessee to find themselves in this position.While the Chiefs have a history of losing playoff games at home, it’s still surprising that the Titans, a team that looked all but dead three weeks ago, was able to pull off the upset on the road in a hostile environment. Heading to Foxborough, however, is a different playoff beast entirely. The Patriots, in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era, are almost unbeatable in the playoffs at Foxborough. That’s not to say that over the years New England hasn’t had its share of devastating home playoff losses. While those losses are surprising and rare, nevertheless, they happened.
Can the Titans keep it rolling?
Last week in the wild-card round, the Titans ran the ball down the Chiefs throats. Tennessee throttled Kansas City on the ground, and if they want to beat New England then they’ll need a repeat performance. According to NFL Stats, the Titans have the 15th ranked rushing attack. Those numbers don’t tell the entire story though. If the Titans are to pull off the upset, then they’ll need to exploit New England’s run defense.
Last week, running back Derrick Henry had to step in for an injured DeMarco Murray. Henry answered with a career performance. Henry carried the Titans to the victory, leading the team in rushing with 156 yards on 23 attempts. At 6’3” tall and weighing close to 250 pounds, Henry is a punishing runner. The Patriots haven’t faced many rushers like Henry this season, and in the past, the Patriots have struggled when facing these types of physical runners. If Henry can establish himself, then watch for the Titans to utilize the play-action down the field to their bigger receivers.
January is when the Patriots real season begins.
New England finished the regular season with the best record in the AFC. This certainly isn’t the Patriots best team in the Belichick and Brady era, but they’re not the worst either. According to NFL Stats, the Patriots’ offense ranks first in total yards and second in points scored per game. By comparison, the Titans rank 23rd in total yards and 19th in points scored per game. If the Patriots can manage to turn this game into a shootout, then the Titans will have no chance at matching the Patriots score for score.
Fortunately for the Patriots, the Titans’ defense ranks outside the top 10 in both yards allowed per game and points allowed per game, according to NFL Stats. Expect Brady and the Patriots to pick apart the Titans defense with a mixture of dink and dunk plays with the occasional shot down the field to Brandon Cooks and Rob Gronkowski.
Patriots vs Titans Betting Lines
The Patriots are far and away the better team in this matchup. For the Patriots to succeed, they will need to shut down the Titans rushing attack early so that Henry isn’t given the opportunity to hammer away at the Patriots run defense. If the Titans can keep this game close into the fourth quarter, then Henry will wear New England out, giving them an opportunity at an upset. That’s a big “if” and a lot would have to happen for that scenario to play out. More than likely, this game will be “a tale of two halves.” Expect the Titans to put up a good fight in the first half before the Patriots pull away in the third quarter and never look back.
Play: Patriots -13.5 @ BetOnline.ag