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Week 10 Patriots vs Titans advanced stats: Red zone performance will be the key to the game for New England

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A look at the stats ahead of Sunday’s meeting between the Patriots and Titans.

Divisional Round - Tennessee Titans v New England Patriots Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

On Sunday, the New England Patriots will face a familiar opponent. Not per se familiar because the two teams meet regularly — they squared off against each other just four times over the last decade, including last year’s playoffs — but because the Tennessee Titans employ plenty of former members of the Patriots organization. For them to defeat their former team, however, they will have to play a very good game as the statistics appear to favor New England.

Let’s analyze the matchup by taking a look at some of the advanced stats heading into the game (courtesy of SB Nation’s Bill Connelly; for his methodology please click here).

Patriots offense vs Titans defense

Normal down and distance in the open field

The battle between the New England offense and the Tennessee defense projects to be fought on equal footing in the open field. This may particularly hold true when it comes to moving the football: the Patriots have regular success — gaining 50% of necessary yardage on first down, 70% on second down, and 100% on third and fourth down — in this area, as do the Titans. The only clear advantage one of the teams has is big plays, an area in which New England’s offense has struggled.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

The Patriots’ success rate when backed up looks solid, while the turnover percentage still hurts from a tipped week one interception. The Titans defense, meanwhile, has had its issues stopping teams from generating some breathing room deep.

Red Zone

While the Patriots’ red zone offense is among the league’s best between the 11 and 30-yard lines, it has been inconsistent near the goal line. Getting big targets like Josh Gordon and Rob Gronkowski going in this part of the field has to be imperative for New England, especially considering that the Titans’ defense is the NFL’s best inside the 10-yard line.

Third Downs

New England’s third down offense, which on the year converts 42.3% of its attempts, remains a work in progress. Tennessee is a welcome opponent, however, considering that the team’s defense has weaknesses especially in the medium and short range between one and six yards to go. Tom Brady and the New England offense might therefore be able to find success in those situations on Sunday.

Blitz Situations

On blitz downs — obvious passing situations specified as first-and-18 or more, second-and-14 or more, and third-and-3 or more — the Patriots offense and Titans defense appear to be evenly matched up. The notable outlier is sack rate: while Tennessee’s pass rush has a hard time getting after the quarterback in this scenario, New England’s protection is outstanding despite the Green Bay Packers finding some success last week.

Patriots defense vs Titans offense

Normal down and distance in the open field

The Titans offense generally struggles when it comes to creating yardage in the open field. However, the unit is among the league’s best at converting third downs — a weakness of New England’s defense this year: between the opponent’s 10 and their own 30-yard line, the Patriots allow 43% to be turned into a fresh set of downs.

Backed Up Situations Near the Goal Line

The backed up statistics read similar to the ones involving the Patriots offense and Titans defense: Tennessee’s offense is solid in this area, while New England has room for improvement when having the opponent backed up.

Red Zone

New England’s defense keeps manifesting itself one of the best units in the NFL again inside the 20-yard line. The Titans offense, meanwhile, has its ups and down in this part of the field: while it performs well inside the 20-yard line – except when it comes to turnover rate – its success is limited in first-and-goal situations. Winning the battle in this part of the field will be a key for the Patriots on both sides of the football.

Third Downs

New England and Tennessee are near-mirror images when it comes to third down success. Both the Patriots defense and the Titans offense are successful in third-and-long situations but have weaknesses the shorter the yardage to gain is. That being said, quarterback Marcus Mariota is the NFL’s most efficient third down passer since week five: he completed 18 of 28 pass attempts earning first downs with every single completion.

Blitz Situations

The Patriots remain below average when it comes to blitz down success — and now they have to go against a Titans offense that usually gains considerable yardage when forced to play from behind the sticks. However, the unit has also struggled to protect the quarterback in such situations. While New England’s pass rush is inconsistent on the year, it has shown signs of life last week against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.


Statistically speaking, the Patriots and Titans are matched up rather evenly. For New England it will therefore be imperative to perform in two critical areas of the field:

  • Red zone: the Patriots face a tough challenge in this part of the field on both offense and defense; winning here will be key.
  • Third down: the two teams have similar third down success on both sides of the football and the team which rises up in those situations will have a good shot at winning the game.

If New England is able to get regular victories in those two areas, it would go a long way to getting a victory in the game as well.