Titans RB ruled out vs Patriots

Titans RB ruled out vs Patriots

The Titans face the New England Patriots on Saturday night at Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady is 6-1 against Tennessee as a starter, including a 2003 victory at the same stage of the playoffs.

Minnesota has the home field edge, the Vikings beat the Saints in Week 1, and the Minnesota defense allowed the fewest points per game during the regular season (15.8). Brady is the guy for this team.

New England also received their Super Bowl rings that night.

There's an element of, "Well he would say that" to Belichick's words. Either way, the negativity and doubt surrounding the most stable franchise in pro sports will do nothing but motivate The GOAT. And yet... As Bleacher Report pointed out on Tuesday, in a piece that characterized Bortles as the quarterback's answer to Rob Gronkowski, there remains the ineluctably frustrating sense that Bortles has the pure, unrefined talent to be able to do prodigious things on a football field. Even if his appetite for avocado ice cream and persistent views on pliability can be a bit cuckoo, let's not forget that he just put together an MVP-caliber season at the age of 40. "Time." When pressed about it, Brady simply noted the importance of the Tennessee game. On the other side, the Titans will again load up on Derrick Henry, who just had the best game of his career with 23 carries for 156 yards and a touchdown. Some of that may be on Brady, who has certainly not appeared to be playing at 100 percent. That won't matter on Saturday. We've got our work cut out for us. They're a good, experienced offensive line. If Brady is on target early, this game will be over before it really begins. Expect White and Lewis to combine for double-digit catches and do damage with the ball in space. Dick LeBeau's defenses have done a good job against the run throughout his Hall of Fame career. He's a fast, big man and powerful. With continuity on the offensive line, it's almost impossible to bottle up the diminutive tailback. Malcolm Mitchell is unlikely to suit up for the Pats for the playoffs, so one of the receivers in the second or third tier of the Pats depth chart is going to have to come up big.

We probably don't give enough credit to the Titans' defense, probably because they don't have the name-brand stars that everyone knows. Byard could cause a lot of problems and keep New England from throwing the deep ball.

When it comes to the Titans, there are essentially three players to worry about.

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They'll need a huge rushing day from the physical force that is running back Derrick Henry.

Mariota, the 2014 Heisman victor, and Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman victor, combined to turn in the best rushing performance in franchise history in the wild-card round. The 16- year age gap between them is the largest between starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in National Football League history. Branch has missed the last three games with a knee injury, but the hefty defensive tackle is capable of shutting down an opposing team's running attack when he's healthy and motivated.

Why they'll win: Mariota's struggles paired with a road tilt against a motivated Patriots defense is a tall order. A sixth Lombardi Trophy is well within their grasp, and the Titans are simply not in the same class as this Patriot team.

While the Titans' new dynamic duo may be downplaying how much their impact is on the offense's success, teammates are quick to point it out.

How could there be shakiness found in Brady, the reigning Super Bowl MVP, the heavy favourite to be named MVP of this season, the lodestone of a dynasty creeping towards the completion of its second decade?

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