The Patriots come into this game losers of two of their last three home games and four of their last eight games overall, including an embarrassing defeat to the Miami Dolphins in Foxboro last week that cost the Patriots a first round bye in the playoffs. This is a crumbling dynasty led by an ancient, mediocre quarterback, ready to fall. New England has never won the Super Bowl in a postseason in which it had to play in the wild-card round. They may not lose this week, but the writing is on the wall for the end of the Patriots domination of the last two decades.
The Titans offense is led by Derrick Henry, the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,540 yards. At 6’ 3” and 247 pounds, Henry is a punishing runner with enough speed to break away in the open field. The Patriots own the best pass defense in the NFL, but they are vulnerable against the run. Look for the Titans to try and exploit that vulnerability with a heavy dose of Henry.
The Titans passing game is led by Ryan Tannehill, who finished the season with the highest passer rating in the NFL. I doubt you can find many NFL fans who think Tannehill is the league’s best passer, but sometimes a decent quarterback gets hot at just the right time to carry a team deep into the playoffs. Tannehill is facing the league’s best pass defense today, so the Titans likely will not be looking to put the game on his shoulders.
Since Ryan Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariota as the starting quarterback for the Titans in Week 7, Tennessee has been dominant in the red zone. Overall, the Titans finished the regular season first in the NFL in red zone offense, converting touchdowns on 76% of their possessions inside the 20 yard-line, almost nine percentage points higher than the next closest team, the Baltimore Ravens. If the Titans can keep that up today, we might see a rare Patriots home loss in the first round of the playoffs today.
It’s the Patriots and the Titans in the second AFC wild card game on one of the best weekends in the NFL season. Enjoy the game everybody.