Taking a look at the New England Patriots Week 12 matchup vs. the Titans

Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Rhamondre Stevenson #38 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots are set to play the AFC leading Tennessee Titans in Week 12, and this game could prove to have huge playoff implications down the line.

The first thing to note on the Titans is that their head coach, Mike Vrabel, was a former star linebacker for eight years (and sometimes a touchdown machine of a tight end) on the New England Patriots. The student has seemingly become the master. Vrabel’s Titans are 2-0 against his former team and coach, Bill Belichick.

And to make matters worse, one of those wins involved beating a Patriots team at Foxborough in a playoff game, which ended up being Tom Brady’s last game in New England. In that playoff game, Derrick Henry, the pile-driving big back, ran roughshod over New England’s defense, and was the difference in that tilt.

Henry will be out for this one, and Tennessee will certainly miss his presence, but the Titans are still playing quite well. They enter the fray at Foxborough with an 8-3 record, which places them atop the AFC East standings, despite they fact they were upset by the Houston Texans in Week 11. They’ll be anxious for a rebound performance against the Patriots.

New England Patriots have a tough challenge against Tennessee’s offense

The Titans offense is led by former Miami Dolphin, Ryan Tannehill, and he has been efficient in leading the offense to their top position.

He’s completing about 66% of his passes with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The INT’s are high, but he’s been good enough for the Titans to be top of the AFC.

Catching the most passes is A.J. Brown. He has three touchdowns and 46 catches on the season. Watching him will likely be the Patriots’ top cornerback, J.C. Jackson, and maybe a safety will help over the top. Belichick will take out the Titans’ top target, and Brown is probably it.

With Henry out, the running game has been weakened, although Adrian Petersen is on board now. Belichick will still try to take Brown out of the game as the key weapon.

Brown is followed by pass catching running back Jeremy McNichols with 25 catches, and a whole host of other receivers for Tannehill with double-digit catches.

Nick Westbrook-Ikhine had a breakout game against Houston with seven catches for 107 yards in the loss.

Knowing Belichick’s ways, Vrabel may try to outfox the Patriots with an underappreciated rushing attack. We’ll see how this cat-and-mouse game plays out.

Whatever Vrabel attempts, he’s going into the teeth of the dragon. The Patriots defense is a dragon-slaying menace and whatever he tries may just be chewed apart.

New England Patriots offense against the Titans’ defense

The Patriots’ offense is rolling as the pinpoint passing of Mac Jones and the slashing running of Damien Harris and the power of Rhamondre Stevenson are becoming dominant.

Against this deployment, the Titans have two top pass rushers to deploy. They have former Boston College star, Harold Landry III who has 10 sacks on the season. Complementing him is the rather unheralded Jeffery Simmons.

Why unheralded? Simmons is a defensive tackle, yet he has 7.5 sacks to date on the season. That’s impressive. Another top threat is safety Kevin Byard, who has five interceptions on the season already.

New England Patriots offense has to be mistake-free and control the ball

On offense, the New England Patriots need to be sharp and mistake-free, or the Titans will sack and intercept them to their fifth loss.

But with the accurate Jones under center, the Titans have little margin for error as well. In addition, New England’s dynamic running back core of Harris, Stevenson, and Brandon Bolden, have been outstanding recently.

The Titans are a huge obstacle in front of the New England Patriots drive for their sixth straight win. Yet, with a win, the Patriots would move past the Titans in the AFC playoff scramble.

The Patriots are now a formidable opponent for any NFL team, including Tennessee. Remember, this Patriots team is two plays away from being 9-2. They could easily have beaten the defending champions in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well.

Julian Edelman wants to see Mac Jones' toughness. dark. Next

Before conceding anything to the Tennessee Titans, keep this in mind, the Patriots are only now rounding into top form. They’re going to get even better.

And with Jones and their lock-down defense in tow, no team should expect to come into Gillette Stadium and win. Not at all. Or you can surely be disappointed.