New England Patriots vs. Tennessee Titans: What to expect Wild Card Weekend

New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
New England Patriots Stephon Gilmore (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

For the first time in 11 years, the New England Patriots will be playing on Wildcard Weekend. They will be facing the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.

The New England Patriots will shockingly be partaking in the Wild Card round following a pathetic loss to the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.

It’s tempting to sit and complain about just how aggravating that game was, but I’ll let someone else here do that while I look ahead to this upcoming game that New England probably shouldn’t even be playing.

The Patriots will host the Tennessee Titans, who come into this weekend with one of the hottest offenses in football lead by resurgent quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Add that to the list of things I never thought I’d say in 2019.

Nevertheless, after a 2-4 start, the Titans named Tannehill the starter and everything has been going well for them since.

They went 7-3 under Tannehill while he posted a 70.3 completion percentage and 2,742 yards passing with 22 touchdowns to just six interceptions as well as a 117.5 passer rating and a very impressive 9.6 yards per attempt.

Tannehill ended the season either first or among the top five quarterbacks in multiple metrics. Needless to say, this is not the same dude that New England played twice a year back when he played for the Dolphins. They may need to pull out some new tricks defensively to slow him down.

Tannehill’s favorite target on offense has been rookie wide receiver A.J. Brown, who is constantly a threat to break a big play as his 20.2 yards per reception would indicate. The Patriots will likely have Stephon Gilmore shadowing Brown.

Hopefully, Gilmore is motivated to redeem himself after he took the day off against Miami and allowed Devante Parker to look like Jerry Rice.

Perhaps an even bigger (literally and figuratively) threat to New England’s defense is Mack Truck running back Derrick Henry. The 6’3″ 247-pound back leads the league in rushing attempts, rushing yards, and rushing touchdowns.

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Hopefully, the front seven for the Patriots will be prepared, because a big factor in this game will be about who is more physical between Henry and the Titans offensive line versus the Patriots’ defensive line and linebackers.

The Titans can be exposed defensively. They rank 24th against the pass and 12th against the run, and they are 14th in the league in turnovers forced with 23.

We can’t exactly rely on the Patriots’ offense to go up and down the field against anyone, but they won’t be responsible for a loss as long as they don’t give the ball away.

I would expect the New England Patriots to try and establish the run early on in this game and only throw it if they feel like they need to. Ideally, they won’t need to employ another strategy on offense but that is largely dependent on how the defense plays.

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Make no mistake: The Tennessee Titans are dangerous. It’s usually hard to bet against the New England Patriots at home, but how confident can we really be after they lost to a 5-11 team with a bye week on the line? We’ll see if this team has anything left in the tank.