Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots Tips | Saturday 13th January 2018
NFL boffin Tom Selwyn analyses the weekend’s NFL divisional play-off matches, continuing from New England.
Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots | Sunday 14th January 2018, 01:15 | Sky Sports
Just when things were looking shaky for the Patriots off the field after a report of internal strife surfaced, the Chiefs contrived to lose to the Titans last week and sent Tennessee to New England instead of themselves for this divisional round matchup.
I’m sure that any Patriots fan will tell you facing the Titans is a lot more favourable than a Chiefs team that beat up on them in week 1.
I don’t mean to be too harsh on Tennessee, who deserve a significant amount of praise for coming back to win last week, but it’s hard not to think the Chiefs would have held on if TE Travis Kelce had remained in the game.
Kelce had his way with the Titans before he left the game and they’ll now be facing New England’s #1 ranked offense, complete with the only TE better than Kelce in Rob Gronkowski. I think they’ll struggle to contain a diverse Patriots attack.
I bigged up Titans QB Marcus Mariota last week and he duly delivered, even going so far as to throw a TD to himself! He’ll have to be at the top of his game again this week as I’m sure New England will be looking to take away Tennessee’s running game first and foremost.
Unfortunately for Mariota, it will more than likely be a struggle to keep up with the Patriots as they lead the league with “Explosive Plays” (11+ yard runs, 15+ yard passes).
New England has not played brilliantly of late, but they still won their last two games by 20 or more points. A handicap of 13.5 points is massive, but with an extra week to prepare and matchup advantages all over the field I think they can do it again – are the Titans truly any better than the Bills who lost by 21 in Foxborough in week 16?
Player to Watch – Tennessee Titans
WR Corps: Going with a group of players again as the Patriots will likely look to stop RB Derrick Henry as a priority, potentially leaving opportunities on the outside. Tennessee’s WRs have to take advantage if they get 1 on 1 matchups against what has been a vulnerable New England secondary
Player to Watch – New England Patriots
Dion Lewis – RB: Given how Travis Kelce worked over Tennessee, Gronkowski would be the obvious choice, but Lewis has been superb of late and has established himself as the Patriot’s #1 back. If he can make inroads into the Titan’s good run defence it will really help open up New England’s playbook.