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7 winners and 3 losers from the Patriots’ 36-13 victory over the Titans

Related: Instant analysis from Patriots’ 36-13 win over Titans

NFL: NOV 28 Titans at Patriots Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It certainly wasn’t pretty but the New England Patriots were able to take advantage of a banged-up Tennessee Titans team to grind out a hard-fought win and pick up their NFL-leading sixth straight win. The Patriots now haven’t lost since October 17 and have outscored their opponents 211-63 during that stretch as they prepare for an AFC East clash next Monday night with the Buffalo Bills for the sole lead in the division.

Against the Titans, Mac Jones threw for 300-plus yards for the second time in his young career while Matthew Judon picked up his team-high 11.5th sack just one minute into the game, leaving Ryan Tannehill scrambling for help all afternoon long. They were gashed for 270 yards on the ground and struggled to finish drives in the red zone, but some big plays by J.C. Jackson in the second half propelled the Patriots to a big win on Sunday afternoon.

Let’s get into the winners and losers from Sunday’s win.

Winner: CB J.C. Jackson

J.C. Jackson has now emerged as a candidate for the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year award. With as many interceptions as catches allowed (5) over his last six games, Jackson continues to be the staple of a strong Patriots secondary.

With New England clinging to just a six-point lead halfway through the third quarter, D’Onta Foreman rushed for what would have been a big 34-yard gain to put the Titans into Patriots territory. Jackson chased him down, however, and knocked the ball out to set up a Jalen Mills recovery. Later in the second half and with the Patriots up by 13, Jackson came up with a fourth-down interception in the back of the end zone to effectively seal the Patriots’ victory.

Jackson is emerging as a top-three cornerback in the game, and his play has been one of the reasons behind the Patriots’ six-game winning streak. He’s taken on teams’ best receivers each week and completely eliminates them from the game. As a pending unrestricted free agent, Jackson is due for a big payday this coming offseason. Against Tennessee he once again showed why.

Winner: WR Kendrick Bourne

Kendrick Bourne is slowly becoming one of the best free agent signings across the league. Versus the Titans, he caught five passes for 61 yards and two scores — just his second multi-touchdown game of his career. On his first TD, he made an acrobatic catch in the back of the end zone in the first quarter. He later turned a crossing route into a big 41-yard touchdown to seemingly put the game away late in the third period.

Bourne’s emergence as the team’s top wide receiver and one of Mac Jones’ go-to target has made himself a true chain mover for a Patriots offense that has desperately needed production from this position.

Winner: QB Mac Jones

Mac Jones has answered pretty much every test thrown his way so far in his rookie season. However, there was still one that we needed the answer to: How would the rookie perform in the cold?

The Jacksonville native who played his college ball at Alabama answered in a big way on Sunday, completing 23 of his 32 pass attempts for 310 yards and two touchdowns. The rookie definitely had some moments where he held onto the ball too long or missed a few wide open receivers — most prominently Hunter Henry before the half. All in all, though, Jones was solid yet again and made the plays when they mattered most.

His best throw of the day came on Kendrick Bourne’s 41-yard touchdown. The Patriots were having trouble finishing drives up to that point and on a crucial 3rd-and-3, Jones hung in there, took a shot and delivered a strike that Bourne turned into a big play.

The rookie has consistently played mistake-averse football and although he hasn’t been the sole reason the Patriots are on a six-game winning streak, he has put them in position to score points and has limited rookie mistakes during that stretch.

Loser: G Ted Karras and G Michael Onwenu

Ted Karras, who has been a pleasant surprise and worked his way into the starting unit earlier this year, struggled on Sunday. He allowed a sack and failed to get a consistent push in the run game, and was even benched at one point in favor of Michael Onwenu.

Onwenu has been a solid piece to the Patriots offensive line since he came into the league a year ago, but he only played 30 snaps in the last two games coming into Sunday. With Karras struggling versus a talented Titans front seven, he was given an extended look again. However, he could not hold onto the job either and Karras was eventually reinserted into the lineup.

With a pivotal game in Buffalo coming up, the left guard spot will be one to monitor this week.

Winner: LB Matthew Judon

The Patriots’ big-money free agency signing is now at 12 games played and 11.5 sacks. It took him just 1:40 to pick up his lone one of the day against the Titans, moving into the second spot in the league in the QB takedown category.

Judon later also made a play by chasing down Ryan Tannehill on a busted screen pass, and prevented him from picking up the first down — paving the way for a big three-and-out at a crucial the time for the Patriots defense. While he also was flagged twice, Judon has proven to be arguably the league’s most impactful free agent signing this past offseason. He proves each week that he is the heart and soul of this elite New England defense.

Loser: LB Ja’Whaun Bentley

Bentley has been a key cog in the Patriots’ front seven all year long due to his ability to complement Dont’a Hightower and play stout football against the run. However, a lot of the Patriots’ troubles against the run on Sunday were due to Bentley. He overshot gaps and was inconsistent as a tackler, which allowed for some big plays for the Titans in the run game.

Bentley did rebound and come up with a strip-sack late in the game which led to Damien Harris’ touchdown to ice the game with minutes left. Overall, however, the fourth-year man has played better games.

Winner: S Devin McCourty

So much of what Devin McCourty does goes beyond the box score; his leadership and ability to lead the Patriots secondary for the last decade have been a key reason for the team’s defensive success. Against the Titans, however, McCourty also was involved in some big plays.

With the Patriots clinging to a 26-13 lead in the fourth quarter, McCourty had a big run stuff on D’Onta Foreman on third down, forcing Tennessee to go for it on a 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line. On that ensuing play, he made a great move for the ball to tip it up in the end zone and allow for J.C. Jackson to make the game-saving interception.

McCourty was not perfect — he took a bad angle on Dontrell Hilliard’s 68-yard touchdown run — but he came through when the team needed him to.

Winner: WR Gunner Olszewski

Although he played zero snaps at his listed position of wide receiver, Gunner Olszewski was huge in the Patriots’ win on Sunday: in a game that was tight until late, Olszewski’s return skills put the Patriots in good field position all afternoon.

Early on in the contest and with the offense struggling to finish drives, his ability to give New England consistently good starting field position helped set Nick Folk up for some manageable kicks and ensure the Patriots came away with at least three points. During this recent winning stretch, Olszewski and the special teams unit have made life much easier for the offense due to their ability to win the field position battle.

Winner: K Nick Folk

Look for “automatic” in the dictionary and a picture of Nick Folk should pop up. The veteran was 5-for-6 on Sunday, with his lone miss being from 53 yards out just before the half.

Folk’s ability to help put points on the board while the offense took its time to figure itself out gave the Patriots control from the start of the game; it also allowed the Titans to never really be in control of the game. Since the start of last year, Folk’s consistency has kept the Patriots in almost every game they have played in.