1 bold prediction for the New England Patriots Week 12 contest

Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots have seemingly been playing important games each time out for the past few weeks, but none of them have been as important as their Week 12 tilt against the Tennessee Titans.

For the time being, the Patriots have fallen back to second place in the AFC East after the Buffalo Bills beat the New Orleans Saints on Thursday. With a win against the Titans, they would reclaim the top spot. Lose, and their path to the top becomes much more difficult.

The fact that New England is even in this position is impressive in its own right. The Pats limped out to a 2-4 start before reeling off a five game win streak to put their name in the conversation as one of the best teams in the AFC. The team has faced some big tests against playoff caliber teams such as the Los Angeles Chargers and Cleveland Browns, but so far they have passed them all in flying colors.

Despite that, it’s clear the Titans pose the biggest challenge this team has run into this season. Even when you account for their upset loss last weekend against the Houston Texans, Tennessee is still the number one seed in the AFC right now. They always seem to be able to deliver in the clutch, and that’s a big reason they find themselves where they are right now.

But heading into the game, it seems like the Patriots are actually favored to win this bout. The Titans are struggling with injuries and coming off a disappointing loss, while the Patriots are coming off a 10 day layoff and are one of the hottest teams in the league. For a game that is incredibly important for both sides, it may end up becoming a one-sided affair very quickly.

The New England Patriots will blowout the Tennessee Titans in Week 12

Picking the New England Patriots to just win the game doesn’t seem like a bold prediction at this point. Had it been made a few weeks back when this team was 2-4, then maybe that’s a different story right now. But New England and Tennessee seem to be two teams heading in opposite directions at the moment.

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The Titans have been battling the attrition of the NFL season for quite some time now, and it’s honestly impressive that they are even 8-3 at this point of the season. They have 14 players on injured reserve, and they will be without a few more key players on Sunday afternoon.

Among the key players on injured reserve for the Titans are their star running back Derrick Henry, All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones, and one of their top free agent signings this past offseason, linebacker Bud Dupree. If these guys are playing this game probably has a different feel to it, so the Patriots should consider themselves lucky they won’t run into any of them on Sunday.

That’s just the start of Tennessee’s injury woes though. Their injury report is still filled with players, and they have already ruled out six more players for Sunday’s game. Among those six, five are starters, so the Titans are really going to have to adopt a next man up strategy if they even want to have a shot in this one.

Of the starters now set to miss the contest, two more stars in A.J. Brown and Rashaan Evans will be watching the game from the sidelines. So on offense, Tennessee is going to be without their top three playmakers in Henry, Brown, and Jones. Defensively, they are going to be without three starters in their front seven (Evans, linebacker David Long Jr., and nose tackle Teair Tart), which only adds to their woes.

All this means is the Titans are going to be very shorthanded come Sunday afternoon, and while you never want to see injuries happen in sports, it tilts the scales in New England’s favor quite considerably. The New England Patriots have been absolutely demolishing teams lately, and when you look at the players Tennessee is being forced to run out this weekend, it’s not that far-fetched to assume this could end up getting ugly for the visiting side.

The Titans have relied on their offense to carry them for much of the season. Rather than having Henry, Brown, and Jones at his disposal, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill will now have to rely on the likes of D’Onta Foreman, Chester Rogers, and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine to help him move the ball up and down the field. Against a red hot Patriots defense, I don’t see that happening.

It wouldn’t be surprising to see the New England Patriots blitz Tannehill early and often in this one. He went from being surrounded with star power to on his own pretty quickly, and head coach Bill Belichick makes it a point of emphasis to slow down the opposing offense’s best player. In this case, that player is now Tannehill. If his offensive line crumbles, it could be a long day at the office for the veteran shotcaller.

On the defensive side of things, the Titans really haven’t been that good all year long. They have the 22nd ranked defense in the league, and that was before a huge chunk of their front seven got injured. They still have a solid pass rush with Landry and Jeffery Simmons in tow, but their run defense is going to be vulnerable in this one. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson could end up having a field day.

Easily Tennessee’s healthiest position group is their secondary, but they haven’t been good all season long. Janoris Jenkins is technically their top cornerback, but he’s been pretty awful for stretches of the season. Kristian Fulton and Elijah Molden have been a bit better, but not by much.

Kevin Byard is the star of the unit at free safety, but otherwise this is an uninspiring group. Jones shouldn’t struggle too much to find open targets, and he could end up finding the likes of Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith early and often in this one. Even if he struggles, the ground game should be able to pick up the slack.

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If Tennessee wasn’t decimated by injuries this would be an interesting contest, but heading into the game, things seem to be a bit one-sided. We have seen time and time again this season that anything can happen in the NFL, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the New England Patriots blow an injury riddled Tennessee Titans out of the water in this one. The most important piece of the puzzle is picking up a win, but the bet here is that it isn’t going to be a particularly tight game.