NFL Divisional Playoff Preview: Titans at Patriots

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Tennessee Titans linebacker Avery Williamson in the first half of an NFL football game in Foxborough Mass

NFL Divisional Playoff Preview: Titans at Patriots

It seems as if every football fan out there has already written off a potential Tennessee upset.

The Titans are a team that have been a odd team. He doesn't have the same Hall of Fame presence as Brees, but that doesn't mean the Patriots aren't anxious. If that happens, I'll certainly let you know as soon as possible. This is Mariota's second start.

Could this be the last run for this Patriots group? We rarely see this team overconfident and overlooking a weaker opponent.

The Vikings don't quite have the offensive weapons the Saints do in quarterback Drew Brees, receiver Michael Thomas and running backs Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, but Minnesota does have the NFL's best defense and that might be the difference on Sunday. The Titans have covered just 12 times in their last 37 games against the rest of the AFC. "I think he has the ability to be the league MVP", said Eddie George, the Titans/Oilers' all-time leading rusher. Marcus Mariota's rookie season came to an end with an injury during the game, and the Patriots used three turnovers and five sacks to prevail 33-16. "You've just got to prepare and keep on working hard and keep on grinding". Of course, he's never played a playoff game before. Since 2002, as Yahoo's Dan Wetzel writes, the Patriots are 9-0 in home Saturday night playoff games.

Football is a game of territory.

In short, the Pats' head coach was hoping Garoppolo would be the successor to Brady. Carson Wentz still led the league in TDs despite missing a good afew games left of the season.

Brian Orakpo has been a solid addition at linebacker for the Titans since he arrived in 2015.

The Patriots would prefer to keep Mariota in the pocket and make him beat them with his arm.

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However, it's not just mobile quarterbacks who have posed problems for the Patriots when it comes to scrambling. On special teams, the team did a nice job of covering kickoffs and making sure that the Chiefs offense did not have any easy situations due to field position. You've still got to go out there and earn it. The running back depth chart was completely decimated, and then-Steelers castoff LeGarrette Blount was still getting acclimated to his New England return.

When the New England Patriots step back onto the field on Saturday, it will have been two weeks since they had a moment of game action.

Ben Roethlisberger wanted a rematch with the Jaguars, and now he has it. Against the Chiefs, Henry ran for 85 yards on eight carries in the final 15 minutes. Tennessee will be without DeMarco Murray, so the sole focus of the defense is on Henry.

Mariota, the 2014 Heisman victor, and Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman victor, combined to turn in the best rushing performance in franchise history in the wild-card round.

Saturday night at New England, Henry will play a huge role in determining whether the Titans can hang with the AFC big dog. The Patriots defense holds the Titans to minus-seven net passing yards. Reliable for this Tennessee offense. That's more such players than the 11 other 2017 playoff teams combined (13). Rob Gronkowski led all NFL TEs with 1,084 yards receiving ... In last postseason game (SB LI), RB James White set single-game SB record with 14 catches and scored three touchdowns ... It's all about containment for Matt Patricia's defense.

The red zone needs to continue being a strength for this defensive unit. Road weariness could become a bit of an issue especially in another cold atmosphere in New England.

Take last weekend, for example, when Mariota threw a pass, had it blocked and had the awareness and athleticism to gather the loose ball in his hands and run it in for the score.

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