Published: Sun, January 14, 2018
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Titans v Patriots

AFC Divisional Playoffs: Three things to watch in Titans v Patriots

- Tom Brady, Patriots, passed for three touchdowns and 337 yards to help New England cruise past Tennessee 35-14.

The New England Patriots quest for a sixth Super Bowl championship begins tonight at Gillette Stadium.

Not to be outdone, New England's defense put together a performance for the ages.

Regardless, NFL playoff games generally come down to the quarterback play, and the discrepancy between the haves and have-nots in each of the four divisional games is stark - and likely the reason the teams considered the "haves" will advance to the championship round.

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota got off to a quick start, which was a rarity for the Titans. When it comes down to it, though, you aren't going to bet against Brady in the playoffs-no matter how he has played over the last month-and you certainly aren't going to bet against Bill Belichick with two weeks of preparation.

This is when Tom Brady is at his best.

The Titans' greatest strength was supposed to be their line play.

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Since the World Cup, Australia have bowled sides out in 21 of their 50 matches, compared to 17 in 53 for Morgan's side.

But should we dismiss Tennessee so quickly? Nonetheless, it may just be time to write a new chapter as a member of the Titans. Granted, he makes each upcoming opponent seem like the 1960s Green Bay Packers. His age makes him a marvel, but also a target for dissection. Tennessee can certainly shock the world, even if no one expects them to.

"I'm trying to go out there and win the game". Yeah, the Titans can play.

The Odds: The Patriots are a week high 13.5 point favorite against the Titans.

Mariota may not have playoff experience but he makes things happen, both with his arm and his feet. Did you know in his career he's thrown 39 touchdowns with no interceptions in the red zone? Linebackers Derrick Morgan and Brian Orakpo lead the pass rush for Tennessee, with 7.5 and 7.0 sacks respectively. QB Marcus Mariota: Including playoffs, 8 TD passes, 10 INT in his last 8 games; Mariota: Including playoffs, 15 TD passes, 16 INT in 16 games in '17 (26 TD passes, 9 INT in 15 games in '16)...PATRIOTS: Off last week...13-3 record, won AFC East in '17 (14-2, won Super Bowl LI in '16)... The largest spread ever in a Divisional Round game was previous year with New England -16.5 vs. Houston, and the Pats won 34-16. "Now, our focus is only New England", Ryan said after Wednesday's Titans practice. George said the Patriots hoped to force co-MVP Steve McNair into turnovers. Good luck defending Dion Lewis and Rob Gronkowski tonight, Tennessee.

Since Brady took over as New England's starter in 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second postseason start against the Patriots are 0-7.

Kraft, Belichick and Brady have been together since 2000, and been instrumental in a dominant run by the franchise. Still, those two are tough to stop when they're using their legs as best they can.

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