Patriots Playoffs: 5 keys to beat the Titans in the Divisional Round

FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Stephon Gilmore
FOXBORO, MA - NOVEMBER 26: Stephon Gilmore /
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KANSAS CITY, MO – JANUARY 06: Quarterback Marcus Mariota /

2. Keep Mariota in the pocket

Tennessee Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota is not elite, but as NFL fans saw last week he has the ability to make plays. At his very best, Mariota could possibly keep up with the Patriots scoring, but he doesn’t have enough weapons around him. He gets even better on the run though.

New England has struggled with mobile quarterbacks, so they could be tested on Saturday. Patriots defenders know just how important it will be to keep Mariota in the pocket.

"“It’s not like if he stays in the pocket he can’t make throws, but when he escapes outside the pocket and he has the ability to run and throw, you honestly really don’t have a shot to stop him,” said safety Devin McCourty. “We’ve played quarterbacks like this where we do want to try to keep him in the pocket, but I think that’s just the beginning part of it. We also, when we’re man coverage or zone coverage, we’ve got to be able to play our zones or our man tight and not allow windows or not allow a great pocket for him to sit back there and throw because he’s a good enough passer that he’ll make all the throws on the football field.”"

The front 7 will have to be at their best to keep Mariota contained as the secondary runs step for step with the Titans receivers. A scrambling Mariota is a dangerous one, so when the pressure is there the defenders need to wrap up and secure the tackle. Allowing him to get away and make a play could prove costly.