The New England Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans on Saturday, January 13th at 8:15 PM ET after the Titans defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 on Wild Card Weekend and the Jacksonville Jaguars held on to defeat the Buffalo Bills 10-3. The Jaguars will face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, January 14th.
The Patriots opened as ridiculous 14-point favorites. This is the 13th time in NFL history where a team has been favored by two-or-more touchdowns in the playoffs, with the most recent being the 2016 Patriots as 16-point favorites over the Houston Texans. The Patriots covered, winning 33-16.
Tom Brady and the Patriots have won their past six games against the Titans, including their most recent game in week 15 of the 2015 season, with New England winning 33-15 thanks to 51 rushing yards by Joey Iosefa (yeah, that happened). The last time the Titans defeated the Patriots was in week 15 of 2002.
The Titans finished the regular season 9-7, with a 19th ranked offense that averaged 20.9 points per game and a 17th ranked defense that averaged 22.3 points allowed per game. Quarterback Marcus Mariota had a passer rating of 79.3 and threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (13) on the year. No player had more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage on offense, either.
Tennessee ranked 18th in the NFL in overall DVOA as they were pretty average all season. They ranked 18th on offense, including the 20th ranked passing offense, but they also boasted the 8th ranked rushing offense thanks to the duo of DeMarco Murray (925 yards from scrimmage, first on the team) and Derrick Henry (880 yards from scrimmage, second on the team). The Patriots have struggled at stopping the run, ranking 30th in DVOA against the run, so they will have their hands full if the Titans are able to get their ground game going.
Tennessee has scored more than 24 points just three times all year, in weeks 2, 3, and 6. They’ve struggled to really put points on the board. New England has scored more than 24 points ten times this year.
The Titans defense ranked 21st in DVOA, including an awful 24th against the pass and a more impressive 7th against the run. Tom Brady and the Patriots passing offense is going to have to score early to eliminate the Titans rushing game from the equation and force Marcus Mariota to win the game with his arm and limited receiving talent.
Teams have also been able to run the ball against the Titans as of late, with Rams running back Todd Gurley gaining 276 yards from scrimmage and Jaguars running back Leonard Fournette gaining 136 yards from scrimmage in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Former Patriots on the Titans QB Matt Cassel, OG Josh Kline, and CB Logan Ryan will be welcomed back in New England.