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Official Thread – Tennessee at New England (1 Viewer)

The_Man

Footballguy
As a Baltimore homer who was at the Wild Card game, let me start this thread by saying what a great game plan the Titans took into Baltimore. Lots of teams make noise about not letting an RB beat them, but I’ve never seen a team truly committed to that idea like the Titans were. They usually had 9 men in the box, sometimes dropping the Safety down as a tenth man, and on occasion (when the Ravens were in their standard 2-TE, 2-RB, 1-WR set and motioned the WR in tight to the formation) literally had 11 in the box. I haven’t seen that since high school. And even when the Ravens had success passing the ball (i.e., three straight completions for 55 yards on the FG drive), they never deviated from their plan. Anyone saying Baltimore should have rushed more wasn’t at the game, because they would have seen how the Titans’ alignment made running impossible.Offensively, the Titans were committed to running the ball and the Ravens couldn’t shut them down with just their front 7. On a very few occasions, Baltimore got impatient and dropped an eighth man into the box. One of those occasions, a second-and-two following an 8-yard run by Eddie on first down, McNair hit the bomb. The Titans matched up well with the Ravens (their strength in stopping the run trumped Baltimore’ s running game, Baltimore’s weak passing couldn’t take advantage of Tenn’s weak pass D).But I think the Titans match up quite poorly with the Pats. The Pats were #27 in rushing offense, #30 in ypc. If the Titans shut down the running game, the Pats will hardly notice. But with the #8 passing attack, the Pats should do well against the Titans’ #30 pass D. In fact, if Tennessee plays its traditional 8 in the box, that’s going to open things up ideally for the Pats’ short-passing, ball control offense. Conversely, the Pats’ front 7 should be able to limit the Titan run game in a way that Baltimore couldn’t, allowing the team that led the NFL in INTs to stay in Cover 2 all game and take advantage of McNair. Also, the Titans are a banged-up bunch who might be susceptible to an emotional letdown after finally besting Baltimore. I like the Pats to win pretty easily.

 

Sack-Religious

Footballguy
The key to this game lies squarely in the hands of McGinist and Vrabel. They need to keep outside contain on McNair to keep him from scrambling and throwing on the run. If they can do this then the DBs will be able to do their jobs with ease.

 

Jason Wood

Zoo York
The key to this game lies squarely in the hands of McGinist and Vrabel. They need to keep outside contain on McNair to keep him from scrambling and throwing on the run. If they can do this then the DBs will be able to do their jobs with ease.
Gotta agree. I don't see Tenny putting up much of a fight in NE. The only away team I see winning this weekend is Indy, and that's in a squeaker.Cheers
 

smlevin

Footballguy
I'll go against the FBGuys brain trust - I think Tennessee has an excellent chance not only to keep this game close, but to flat out win it.The Titans' pass D may be ranked low, but that is only b/c noone can ever run on them. If the Titans get a good pass rush (and I believe they can with Kearse and Carter) and disrupt Brady's rythm a bit, they will do well defensively. Also, since Faulk is such a pass-catching threat, I'd expect he will have a LB shadow - it'll be 8 in the box, with the outside LBs having shadow contain responsibility on Faulk when he's in the game, and pass-rushing/run-stopping responsibilities when ASmith/Cloud are in the game. The key will be the matchups of Faulk/Graham/Fauria underneath against the Titans LBs, who do NOT cover well.On the other side of the ball, McNair is blessed with a large variety of receivers that will create matchup problems for the Pats, and he has one receiver - Mason - who demands a double team, and then he has two great pass-catching TEs who will continually pull the LBs away from the line. This will open up McNair running lanes, and yardage for Eddie and CBrown on draws and flat screens - two things they worked against Baltimore well. Tennessee simply has more decent weapons than the Pats can account for.I think it'll be real close throughout the game and Tennessee will have a chance late in the game to win the thing. McNair magic in the two minte drill could end the Pats' season, and I think the Titans will keep it close throughout.

 
I like New England. Steve McNair is still not healthy and him running around and throwing just isn't going to happen.New England is like Baltimore but with an offense. I look for New England to win this game by 10 points and leave us wondering will anyone be able to beat this team. Shoot, I'm already wondering that.

 

Goat Herders

Footballguy
I think New England wins an extremelly close game, but I wouldn't be shocked for Tennessee to take it. To think that the Titans are overmatched, outcoached, wahtever is silly. Earlier in the year, if you recall, the game was quite tight and the 8 point margain of victory was due to a late INT run back for a TD. Up until then, the game was wide-open. I think that the game will be decided, surprisingly, by two guys long thought "over the hill", Eddie George and Antowain Smith. I think every lead in this game is going to be nursed like a new-born with lots of runs and screens (both teams like the screen pass, NE moreso) as the clock continues to tick. The D-line with the most stamina, and the O-backfield with the most heart, will be the victor. But only by the slightest margain.HERD

 

Jason Wood

Zoo York
I think New England wins an extremelly close game, but I wouldn't be shocked for Tennessee to take it. To think that the Titans are overmatched, outcoached, wahtever is silly. Earlier in the year, if you recall, the game was quite tight and the 8 point margain of victory was due to a late INT run back for a TD. Up until then, the game was wide-open. I think that the game will be decided, surprisingly, by two guys long thought "over the hill", Eddie George and Antowain Smith. I think every lead in this game is going to be nursed like a new-born with lots of runs and screens (both teams like the screen pass, NE moreso) as the clock continues to tick. The D-line with the most stamina, and the O-backfield with the most heart, will be the victor. But only by the slightest margain.HERD
I agree they won't be outcoached. Jeff Fisher and Andy Reid are so similar it's frigtening. Both win regardless of their talent, rarely if ever do you see their teams unprepared for a game, and neither gets the national credit they deserve for being near the top of their profession.Cheers
 

Weapon of Mass Instruction

Watch my feet!
Gotta agree. I don't see Tenny putting up much of a fight in NE. The only away team I see winning this weekend is Indy, and that's in a squeaker.

Cheers
Even as a Titan fan, I must agree that it is not a stretch to see NE win the game. But those that are predicting a blowout, 10+ points, Titans have no chance -- I don't see it. Where do those conclusions come from?The only thing we can do is to look back at game 1; NE won 38-30.

Observations:

With 3:14 left in the game, NE scored to go up 31-27. Tennessee was leading, obviously.

Running the 2 minute drill, McNair threw a pick and Ty Law ran it back. Hence, the 38 points.
When the Pats scored the go ahead touchdown mentioned above, it was just after Tennessee had scored to go up 27-24 with 7 minutes left.
Bethel Johnson returned the kickoff 71 yards and gave NE the short field to take the lead.Point: NE won the game. No gripes. But, it was largely due to turnovers and special teams lapses that put NE in the position to win.

IF Tennessee eliminates those mistakes, they AT LEAST make it a pick'em. While the defensive special teams aren't great, they have greatly improved since then.

Other observations:

In the first game, Brady had 219 yards. McNair had 391.
In the first game, Smith and Cloud combined for 153 yards. Uh...that isn't going to happen again.
In the first game, the Titans were WITHOUT their starting middle LB Sirmon and starting RT Haynesworth. He's the guys that stuffed Jamal numerous times on Saturday.
Also, Samari Rolle went out on the 4th play with a dislocated elbow (ouch). The very next touchdown was a pass against Samari's backup
That is 3 defensive starters they were playing without.Who wins? I don't know. Obviously NE is a rational favorite. Tennessee would have likely won the first game, though, absent even a few of the above events.

By the way, why is the game at 8:15pm EST? Why is the schedule different from last week?

 
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djcolts

Footballguy
Bethel Johnson returned the kickoff 71 yards and gave NE the short field to take the lead.
As Colts fans painfully know, Bethel Johnson is a frighteningly good kickoff returner.
 

The_Man

Footballguy
Running the 2 minute drill, McNair threw a pick and Ty Law ran it back. Hence, the 38 points.

In the first game, Brady had 219 yards. McNair had 391.
In the first game, Smith and Cloud combined for 153 yards. Uh...that isn't going to happen again.By the way, why is the game at 8:15pm EST? Why is the schedule different from last week?
McNair also threw a pick for a TD last week. What makes you think such a happening is impossible/not indicative of what could happen?Like you think McNair is going to go for 391 again? He's only been over 250 twice since the NE game. And it is possible that Brady's relatively low passing yardage was due to the Pats' run success? Therefore, it's reasonable to think that if the Pats run less this time, Brady will pass more.

Also, Vinatieri missed a couple of FGs from less than 40 yards. He makes those and suddenly it's a fairly different game.

If this weekend's games showed us anything, it's that comparisons to previous matchups don't mean a lot in the playoffs:

Regular season:

Cowboys whip Panthers

Packers whip Seattle (in Green Bay)

Broncos whip Colts (in Indy)

Playoffs:

Two reversals and a nail-biter in Seattle

 
Gotta agree. I don't see Tenny putting up much of a fight in NE. The only away team I see winning this weekend is Indy, and that's in a squeaker.

Cheers
Even as a Titan fan, I must agree that it is not a stretch to see NE win the game. But those that are predicting a blowout, 10+ points, Titans have no chance -- I don't see it. Where do those conclusions come from?The only thing we can do is to look back at game 1; NE won 38-30.

Observations:

With 3:14 left in the game, NE scored to go up 31-27. Tennessee was leading, obviously.

Running the 2 minute drill, McNair threw a pick and Ty Law ran it back. Hence, the 38 points.
When the Pats scored the go ahead touchdown mentioned above, it was just after Tennessee had scored to go up 27-24 with 7 minutes left.
Bethel Johnson returned the kickoff 71 yards and gave NE the short field to take the lead.Point: NE won the game. No gripes. But, it was largely due to turnovers and special teams lapses that put NE in the position to win.

IF Tennessee eliminates those mistakes, they AT LEAST make it a pick'em. While the defensive special teams aren't great, they have greatly improved since then.

Other observations:

In the first game, Brady had 219 yards. McNair had 391.
In the first game, Smith and Cloud combined for 153 yards. Uh...that isn't going to happen again.
In the first game, the Titans were WITHOUT their starting middle LB Sirmon and starting RT Haynesworth. He's the guys that stuffed Jamal numerous times on Saturday.
Also, Samari Rolle went out on the 4th play with a dislocated elbow (ouch). The very next touchdown was a pass against Samari's backup
That is 3 defensive starters they were playing without.Who wins? I don't know. Obviously NE is a rational favorite. Tennessee would have likely won the first game, though, absent even a few of the above events.

By the way, why is the game at 8:15pm EST? Why is the schedule different from last week?
HOWEVER....the Titans offense has not been hitting on all cylinders in recent week like they were in the first few games (including the Pats in Week 5).The Titans primary strength is run defense. No need to stop something that barely exists (Pats rushing offense). Thus the Titans primary strength will not be allowed to shine, allowing weaknesses to be expoited.

Also, Anthony Wright is no Tom Brady.

As a rabid Titan fan, my fingers are burning as I type this.....Pats roll!

(dammit!) :wall: :rant: :hot: :boxing: :thumbdown: :angry:

 

BigRed

Footballguy
Gotta agree. I don't see Tenny putting up much of a fight in NE.
I think yer dreaming. NE definitely has a strength-on-weakness situation with their passing game, but TEN knows that and will play pass all day long. And Brady isn't above having a bad day. He's no Manning. ;)Close game here. TEN pulls off the upset.
 

Weapon of Mass Instruction

Watch my feet!
Running the 2 minute drill, McNair threw a pick and Ty Law ran it back.  Hence, the 38 points.

In the first game, Brady had 219 yards.  McNair had 391.
In the first game, Smith and Cloud combined for 153 yards.  Uh...that isn't going to happen again.By the way, why is the game at 8:15pm EST?  Why is the schedule different from last week?
McNair also threw a pick for a TD last week. What makes you think such a happening is impossible/not indicative of what could happen?Like you think McNair is going to go for 391 again? He's only been over 250 twice since the NE game. And it is possible that Brady's relatively low passing yardage was due to the Pats' run success? Therefore, it's reasonable to think that if the Pats run less this time, Brady will pass more.

Also, Vinatieri missed a couple of FGs from less than 40 yards. He makes those and suddenly it's a fairly different game.

If this weekend's games showed us anything, it's that comparisons to previous matchups don't mean a lot in the playoffs:

Regular season:

Cowboys whip Panthers

Packers whip Seattle (in Green Bay)

Broncos whip Colts (in Indy)

Playoffs:

Two reversals and a nail-biter in Seattle
I'm not saying it can't happen, unfortunately.Just saying that they were abnormal occurences that don't typically happen.

I think it is a lot more even than many think.

 

mighty thor

Footballguy
As a Pats fan it scares me to say this but I think everything is in the patriots favor in this one (I usually try to look at all the negatives and convince myself the patriots will be lucky to win a game). The one thing that scared me about Tennessee was mcNair getting out of the pocket and making some big running plays. With his health this may no longer be a problem. People were saying that the patriots might have peaked too early with their long winning streak but I honestly feel that they have been getting better every week. I think they are a much better team now than the one that beat Tennesee earlier in the year. And with the injuries to McNair and George, I'm not sure Tennesee can say the same thing. I don't see tennesee running on the Pats nor do I see the patriots running on the Titans. so the big matchups will be Brady vs. Tenn pass defense and McNair vs. Pats pass defense. I like the Pats pass defense better. Over the last couple of years this defense has made a habit of coming up huge in big games and with the extra week preparation I see them coming up big again.

 

smlevin

Footballguy
Regular season:Cowboys whip PanthersPackers whip Seattle (in Green Bay)Broncos whip Colts (in Indy)Playoffs:Two reversals and a nail-biter in Seattle
Agreed - which is why it'll be a different result in this rematch than the first time around. Tennessee wins, or stays w/in 3 at the end of the game.Plus, the Pats can be beaten - except for an early game against the Eagles, and the last game against the Bills, they have not blown anybody out. In fact, the vast majority of their games, and almost all of their games against good teams, were fairly close - w/in a TD. So, it is not logical to think they will blow out the Titans.Next, they played only three or four truly potent offenses - the Eagles, the Titans, the Colts, the Broncos, and maybe the Redskins - and only maybe three really good QBs - Mcnair, Manning and Pennie. They lost to the 'skins, they beat the Eagles in week 2 when the Eagles were rudderless in the extreme, and the Colts and Titans games were very close. (** Edit to add - the Broncos game was 30-26**) The second Jets game was very close, too, with Pennie behind the wheel. I contend that if McNair plays well, the Titans have better than a good chance to win, and an excellent chance to keep it close.One last thing - you did not see an aggressive, attacking Titans team last week - they were playing very close to the vest and sitting on slim leads. If they do that against these Patriots, the Titans will not win the game. I called it a prevent offense last week when they ran the ball after getting the TO at the 30. Didn't kick the FG, punted the ball, and played defense - they paid for it when the Ravens were within a TD and were able to drive down the field to get Heap's TD. They were apparently content to run 1:30 off the clock instead of going for the throat. They better go for the throat against the Pats or they will definitely lose the game.Anyway, that is my expanded take on the game (and, incidentally, why I think the Titans +6 is an excellent bet).
 
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Jason Wood

Zoo York
One last thing - you did not see an aggressive, attacking Titans team last week - they were playing very close to the vest and sitting on slim leads. If they do that against these Patriots, the Titans will not win the game. I called it a prevent offense last week when they ran the ball after getting the TO at the 30. Didn't kick the FG, punted the ball, and played defense - they paid for it when the Ravens were within a TD and were able to drive down the field to get Heap's TD. They were apparently content to run 1:30 off the clock instead of going for the throat. They better go for the throat against the Pats or they will definitely lose the game.Anyway, that is my expanded take on the game (and, incidentally, why I think the Titans +6 is an excellent bet).
Not sure why they'd "open it up" more against the best defense in the league in a stadium where NE has virtually made it impossible for teams to score in the last half of the season, and with their QB, RB and leading defensive end all gimpy.Cheers
 

NE_REVIVAL

Footballguy
I have great respect for Ten and IMO they are a team that could give NE a lot of trouble. They are good enough on both sides of the ball to keep it close and Mcnair is a veteran who has seen just about everything NE can throw at him.I do think NE will win but I think it will be a dog fight and not nearly as high scoring as the first one when BOTH teams were missing players.

 

smlevin

Footballguy
One last thing - you did not see an aggressive, attacking Titans team last week - they were playing very close to the vest and sitting on slim leads. If they do that against these Patriots, the Titans will not win the game. I called it a prevent offense last week when they ran the ball after getting the TO at the 30. Didn't kick the FG, punted the ball, and played defense - they paid for it when the Ravens were within a TD and were able to drive down the field to get Heap's TD. They were apparently content to run 1:30 off the clock instead of going for the throat. They better go for the throat against the Pats or they will definitely lose the game.Anyway, that is my expanded take on the game (and, incidentally, why I think the Titans +6 is an excellent bet).
Not sure why they'd "open it up" more against the best defense in the league in a stadium where NE has virtually made it impossible for teams to score in the last half of the season, and with their QB, RB and leading defensive end all gimpy.Cheers
In Baltimore, they got a key turnover at the 30 - instead of trying to gain a first down, the Titans were evidently content to run 1:30 off the clock and punt the ball back to the Ravens.I am not saying "open it up", but at least one shot for the first down instead of getting shut down on three consecutive running plays is probably advised when you get a TO at the opponent's 30 - it's a slap in your defense's face not to go for it when they give you such great field position.It was obvious to me they were happy trying to get 5-8 yards running the ball and running 1:30 off the clock to try for a field goal. Prevent offense. They got stuffed on three consecutive run plays and were out of Gary Anderson's short range - they had to punt and come away with no points on a drive that started at the opponent's 30. JayWoo, you must have mis-read, or missed, the point I was making.
 

Jason Wood

Zoo York
One last thing - you did not see an aggressive, attacking Titans team last week - they were playing very close to the vest and sitting on slim leads.  If they do that against these Patriots, the Titans will not win the game.  I called it a prevent offense last week when they ran the ball after getting the TO at the 30.  Didn't kick the FG, punted the ball, and played defense - they paid for it when the Ravens were within a TD and were able to drive down the field to get Heap's TD.  They were apparently content to run 1:30 off the clock instead of going for the throat.  They better go for the throat against the Pats or they will definitely lose the game.Anyway, that is my expanded take on the game (and, incidentally, why I think the Titans +6 is an excellent bet).
Not sure why they'd "open it up" more against the best defense in the league in a stadium where NE has virtually made it impossible for teams to score in the last half of the season, and with their QB, RB and leading defensive end all gimpy.Cheers
In Baltimore, they got a key turnover at the 30 - instead of trying to gain a first down, the Titans were evidently content to run 1:30 off the clock and punt the ball back to the Ravens.I am not saying "open it up", but at least one shot for the first down instead of getting shut down on three consecutive running plays is probably advised when you get a TO at the opponent's 30 - it's a slap in your defense's face not to go for it when they give you such great field position.It was obvious to me they were happy trying to get 5-8 yards running the ball and running 1:30 off the clock to try for a field goal. Prevent offense. They got stuffed on three consecutive run plays and were out of Gary Anderson's short range - they had to punt and come away with no points on a drive that started at the opponent's 30. JayWoo, you must have mis-read, or missed, the point I was making.
SLevs,I did indeed misread your post, my apologies. I agree with you that if the Titans aren't more aggressive, it's going to be a long day for them.Cheers
 

smlevin

Footballguy
I figured -By the way, you are correct, if the Titans open it up versus the Pats, they will probably get their A-s handed to them with a lot of 6 point plays the wrong way. However, they need to turn on the agressiveness instead of playing conservatively with slim leads, or the Pats will exploit it better than the Ravens did.In short, I see a decent game overall - a 27-23; 31-27 type of game. There is a decent chance that Viniaterri's accurate and deep leg could be the edge over Gary Anderson's inability to hit 45-yard FGs consistently. In all, though, it'll come down to QB play - how well each QB can face the other team's pressure up front.

 

marcdd

Footballguy
I see a close final score, but a decisive win on the field by the Pats. The extra week off while the Titans were smashing heads with the Ravens and the home field advantage tip the scales to the Pats. As mentioned before, I think the Pats will contain McNair in the pocket, cover the passing lanes, and create a couple turnovers. Brady plays his usual mistake free, conservative, take what's there game plan with the short passes, and the Pats turn a 10-7 halftime lead into a 24-17 final score.

 

The Duff Man

Footballguy
Pats D has been dominant at home, and their offense is much better than the Ravens, whose only strength played right into the strength of the TEN defense. The extra week off and what the Ravens took out of the Titans during their game can't be overlooked.My Prediction: Pats control the entire game and it is close until late in the 4rth when the Pats run it up as the Titans try to force the issue.

 

faede

Footballguy
I'm still going with the matchup theory. I don't think any team in the playoffs this year is overpowering enough to beat out a good matchup. I don't believe there is a team left in the AFC that matches up well against the patriots. The patriots are solid Defense and enough passing offense to win. It would take a solid and anti-turnover offense combined with a decent pass defense to beat them.Of the 3 teams still around, the chiefs and colts I don't think have enough defense to stop Brady and I don't think their high powered offenses can score enough against that pats' d to overcome what Brady can put up on them.Tennesse I think is the only team that can stop the Patriots. The Tenn Rush defense is their strength, which doesn't help them too much against the relatively non existant rush offense of the pats. I however, don't feel like the Tenn pass defense is as horrible as people seem to think.This game comes down to one thing in my mind. Steve McNair. If he plays like he did against Baltimore, game over, titans are done. If he plays lights out, I think the Pats come out of this game with a loss.That being said, I still think the pats are going to win this game and most likely, the next. I however think there are a couple teams in the NFC that match up well against them, including the Eagles which I believe is the worst matchup new england could find in the entire NFL.

 

SeniorVBDStudent

Footballguy
Personally, if the Pats have to lose to any team, and I could pick that team, I would pick the Titans. I am a big fan of Fisher, George and McNair. They deserve a second chance against the Greatest Joke On Turf. Having said that, I see the Pats having an edge due to (a) home field and (b) Brady and the Smurfs versus Titans secondary (including Rolle's "mild" concussion). The first game was a thriller, and this one should be as well. He who wins the turnover battle wins the game.Wild Prediction: Antowain Smith rushes for at least 90 yards.Pats 24Titans 17

 

SeniorVBDStudent

Footballguy
...It would take a solid and anti-turnover offense combined with a decent pass defense to beat them.... I still think the pats are going to win this game and most likely, the next. I however think there are a couple teams in the NFC that match up well against them, including the Eagles which I believe is the worst matchup new england could find in the entire NFL.
I agree. Eagles/Pats would be a great SB. Consolation prize would be Titans/Rams.
 

FrankeyBonez

Footballguy
I have a lot of respect for the Titans, but I can honestly say (without homerism) that I think the Pats will take this one.*The Patriots have been rolling, taking 12 straight, culminating with a payback blowout of the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. They're also almost all healthy for the first time all season, and they'll be fresh after a week off. And you know Belichek will have them focused.*They're predicting temperatures of around 7 degrees in Foxboro Saturday night.*Steve McNair is banged up, and all in all, he didn't look very good last week. A good shot or two, and we may see Neil O'Donnell. It won't be easy for Steve McNair to move the football on a New England defense that has allowed a total of only 22 points over their past 6 home games. 3 of the past 4 home games have actually been shutouts.*I really don't think the Titans will be able to run on us. I think we'll see the hobbled Eddie George of the past couple of years, not the explosive one we saw last week. The cold weather won't help his shoulder, nor will the swarm of hard hitters that the Pats have assembled of defense.*Antowain Smith has looked like the Antowain of 2001 over the past couple of weeks. He's no lock to dominate this game, but the Pats have been doing it all year long without a running game. Any contribution from Antowain would be somewhat of a bonus.*With all due respect to Tennessee, I don't see their secondary stopping Brady's aerial attack - at least not enough to win the game. Brady plays his best when the stakes are high and the pressure is on, and this game fits that bill. Samarai Rolle is also coming off a mild concussion from the Baltimore game. While Rolle and Dyson are solid cornerbacks, the Titans probably don't have the depth in the secondary to match up when the Patriots come out with 4 or 5 wide. With Deion Branch and David Givens starting, Troy Brown and Bethel Johnson could cause match problems when all 4 are on the field together. Kevin Faulk is also a factor in the passing game, and someone's still going to have to cover Daniel Grahame and Christian Fauria.*Jeff Fisher is a very good coach - one of the best in football. But Bill Belichek is a mastermind. His coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, are also two of the most saught-after candidates to fill out some of the head coaching vacancies this offseason. Strategy and coaching have to be in New England's favor. Belichek has also had an extra week to tinker around with new ideas and possibilities. Steve McNair may be the co-MVP, but he may very well be in for his toughest game of the year.GO PATS! :boxing:

 
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46 ZONE

Footballguy
Great analysis, Frankey. I was on the fence until reading your post. I have a few comments to add...

*The Patriots have been rolling, taking 12 straight, culminating with a payback blowout of the Buffalo Bills in Week 17. They're also almost all healthy for the first time all season, and they'll be fresh after a week off. And you know Belichek will have them focused.
12 straight and healthy as they have been all year vs. a beat up TEN team on the road. Big advantage to NE.
*They're predicting temperatures of around 7 degrees in Foxboro Saturday night.
I don't think this will be a huge advantage for NE, as TEN knows how to play well in cold weather
*I really don't think the Titans will be able to run on us.
Wow, I didn't know you played defense for the Pats? Which position do you play? But seriously, I'd be surprised if TEN nets 100 yards rushing as a team. C. Brown is a wild card, but I don't think he breaks out in this one.
*Jeff Fisher is a very good coach - one of the best in football. But Bill Belichek is a mastermind. His coordinators, Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, are also two of the most saught-after candidates to fill out some of the head coaching vacancies this offseason. Strategy and coaching have to be in New England's favor. Belichek has also had an extra week to tinker around with new ideas and possibilities. Steve McNair may be the co-MVP, but he may very well be in for his toughest game of the year.
Agree that Belicheck is a better coach and should have a few tricks up his sleeve to throw at McNair, which should lead to turnovers. Also agree that Weis is a great OC, and would not mind having him as the head coach in Chicago. This seems like a very good fit - the Bears are looking for an offensive mind, plus Weis clearly knows how to run a productive passing offense in cold and windy conditions.
 

smlevin

Footballguy
*I really don't think the Titans will be able to run on us. I think we'll see the hobbled Eddie George of the past couple of years, not the explosive one we saw last week. The cold weather won't help his shoulder, nor will the swarm of hard hitters that the Pats have assembled of defense.*Antowain Smith has looked like the Antowain of 2001 over the past couple of weeks. He's no lock to dominate this game, but the Pats have been doing it all year long without a running game. Any contribution from Antowain would be somewhat of a bonus.*With all due respect to Tennessee, I don't see their secondary stopping Brady's aerial attack - at least not enough to win the game. Brady plays his best when the stakes are high and the pressure is on, and this game fits that bill. Samarai Rolle is also coming off a mild concussion from the Baltimore game. While Rolle and Dyson are solid cornerbacks, the Titans probably don't have the depth in the secondary to match up when the Patriots come out with 4 or 5 wide. With Deion Branch and David Givens starting, Troy Brown and Bethel Johnson could cause match problems when all 4 are on the field together. Kevin Faulk is also a factor in the passing game, and someone's still going to have to cover Daniel Grahame and Christian Fauria.
I rejected the other points as "fluffy" The Pats win streak is fairly irrelevant as it is now the playoffs. Every team is good. I also reject the McNair is banged up theory I've heard floating around. McNair is ALWAYS banged up, has been all year, it does not affect his performance.The three points above are why the Pats will win. Titans unable to run - they racked up 140+ v. the Ravens's run D, they could do the same v. the Pats, but they really don't need to in order to win. That said, McNair throwing for 300 is not how the team will gameplan, and if the Pats remove the Titans running game they are halfway there - they disrupted what the Titans want to do and will have gone a far way to controlling the flow of the game.Antowain like Antowain of 2001 - I don't care if he looks like Priest Holmes 2002 - this is the Titans' run D and no running will be going on. Put that lame thought out of your head - only a Pat fan would think the ASmith of 2001 can run on this D. If it could shut down Jamal in his own house, the Pats run game will be easy meat.Point three - the Titans secondary can't cover everybody. True. The fight, though, will come down to whether Kearse and Carter can disrupt Brady's rythm enough to prevent him from being able to go downfield - a couple errant passes and the pendulum swings to the Titans. In all, I don't think the Pats WRs will be a major factor most of the game - though three or four successful deep strikes might be all that is needed. What will matter is the Faulk/Fauria/Graham matchup on the nickel and the LBs - this is a clear advantage in favor of the Pats, and is something they can exploit all game long. The Titans LBs in coverage are their weak spot. Heap alone was able to eat them up - think what Faulk, Fauria and Graham will be able to do - all game long - at will to them. Expect a ton of dink and dunk chain moving drives. This strategy will not create a big score - so the Titans will stay close, but it does lend itself to several things, including opening up the deep ball and opening up the running lanes.On the other side of the ball, if Mason gets lose, the Pats may have to play a lot of catchup - two quick Titan scores, and the entire complexion of the ball game changes. Don't get cocky, Pats fans, but expect a 4-6 point fairly comfortable victory. Pats win, Titans cover the spread.
 
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tommyboy

Footballguy
i like tenn in an upset. Fisher will slow the game down to a crawl in his game planning and turn it into a special teams/turnover battle. Guaranteed. There won't be much offense in this game. This game will be a repeat of the Baltimore game.

 

SeniorVBDStudent

Footballguy
Antowain like Antowain of 2001 - I don't care if he looks like Priest Holmes 2002 - this is the Titans' run D and no running will be going on. Put that lame thought out of your head - only a Pat fan would think the ASmith of 2001 can run on this D. If it could shut down Jamal in his own house, the Pats run game will be easy meat.
The difference of course is that the Ravens don't have a respectable passing game so 10-11 in the box is a viable option against Anthony Wright.In the regular season game vs the Titans, the Patriots rushed the ball 27 times for 161 yards with 3 rushing touchdowns.Running the ball can be an artifact of a balanced offense; if anyone should be able to appreciate that, the Titans should. :cool:
 

chinawildman

Footballguy
In the regular season game vs the Titans, the Patriots rushed the ball 27 times for 161 yards with 3 rushing touchdowns.
Very good point. People that make this a game of numbers forget that in the NFL, the unexpected happens more than 50% of the time. Tennessee is #30 against the pass because few people could run on them... much like how the pats are #8 in passing offense because they can't run the ball. The stats tell you what the teams DID, not what they WILL do.Seeing as how the first game was a shootout, I'll take the Titans in a defensive struggle 17-13.
 

porkins

Footballguy
They deserve a second chance against the Greatest Joke On Turf.
This is exactly what get Pats fans fired up about. :rant: This is supposed to be an educated discussion about how people see this game playing out. So please keep you bashing comments to yourself.
 

ChromeWeasel

Footballguy
*Antowain Smith has looked like the Antowain of 2001 over the past couple of weeks. He's no lock to dominate this game, but the Pats have been doing it all year long without a running game. Any contribution from Antowain would be somewhat of a bonus.
This is something I've been noticing. The Pats have been able to run lately and I think Smith continues to get better in the cold New England weather. I won't be surprised to see him contribute a lot more in the postseason than casual fans saw the fist half of the year. I love the balanced attack but I've been watching Smith look better and better every week.
 

conan2

Footballguy
They deserve a second chance against the Greatest Joke On Turf.
This is exactly what get Pats fans fired up about. :rant: This is supposed to be an educated discussion about how people see this game playing out. So please keep you bashing comments to yourself.
Ummm...I believe he's talking about the Colts.This is exactly what gets non-Pats fans fired up. :football: :wall: On to my take of the game...the scales seem tipped in favor of the Pats to me.The Pats O vs. Tenn D. looks like a very bad matchup for the Titans. Tenn LB coverage is a weakness, dink-and-dunk is a Pats strength. I see lots of short passing setting up the occassional deep strike. The only question mark being will the pressure get to Brady? I think this is probably the closest matchup of the game...Tenn D-line is very good and the Pats O-line have been providing great protection. I think Brady will get put on his butt a few times, but will mostly get enough time to be effective.Any O vs. the Pats D at home...I don't see ANYBODY scoring many points against this defense. They are playing extremely well. I predict a long day for Air McNair and Eddie George. By the end of the post-season don't be surprised to hear this D compared to some of the great D's of all time. Yes. They are that good.Other factors:Coaching: Pretty even here, actually, but the nod goes to the Pats. Both great coaches, though.Special Teams: Slight nod to the Pats. Vinatieri has not been himself this year.Intangibles: Home field, two weeks to get ready, healthy, bitter cold weather coming...all of these things go onto the Pats side of the equation.Prediction Pats 27 - Tenn 16conan
 

Workhorse

Footballguy
I'm really enjoying all of the Titans fans pointing to that first matchup as being "close" and relying on the fact that a couple of their players were injured for that game.Nevermind the fact that the Pats were playing without:Ted Johnson Mike Vrabel Willie McGinest Kevin Faulk Daniel Graham Ted Washington Now all are healthy. Also Ty Law played with a severe ankle sprain which caused him to come out of the game in the second half for all but the last Titans drive.

 

Goat Herders

Footballguy
Are you enjoying all the Titans fans (like me) who don't care about the injuries in the first matchup and see two very evenly matched teams, regardless of the injury report? Actually, the first matchup was "close" and I don't care who was injured because both teams had injuries and the game was decided on Defense and Special Teams, which is the case for almost all Patriots games. In my mind, this is really quite simple - if the Pats score a ST or Def TD, they'll win. If they don't, the Titans will win.HERD

 

Workhorse

Footballguy
Well, Goat: Since you're the first level-headed one on this thread, Cheers! ;) Seriously, this will be a good matchup of two physical teams. But the bye week, and a cold, home night game give the Pats a BIG edge. The Titans just aren't good enough against the pass to stop the Pats spread offense. I'd look for a lot of no-huddle, 5 wide formations. If the Pats get matchups like Troy Brown against Tank Williams in man coverage, Tennessee is in for a very long game...

 

Goat Herders

Footballguy
If the Pats get matchups like Troy Brown against Tank Williams in man coverage, Tennessee is in for a very long game...
As a Titans fan, I'll take this matchup ALL NIGHT LONG.Whats funny, at least to me, is that the Titans defensive backs this year are MUCH better then the year they went to the Super Bowl (Anthony Dorsett anyone?), as is the pass-rush, but for some reason, the results have shown that. We shall see....HERD
 

Nigel

Footballguy
Are you enjoying all the Titans fans (like me) who don't care about the injuries in the first matchup and see two very evenly matched teams, regardless of the injury report? Actually, the first matchup was "close" and I don't care who was injured because both teams had injuries and the game was decided on Defense and Special Teams, which is the case for almost all Patriots games. In my mind, this is really quite simple - if the Pats score a ST or Def TD, they'll win. If they don't, the Titans will win.HERD
Actually, I think it's the Titans who NEED the ST/Def TD to win. I agree that if the Pats get one, they'll win, but they don't necessarily lose without one. Are you saying that it is a lock that the Titans offense puts up more points than the Pats on Saturday? What makes you so sure? Absent any non-O TDs, I think the Pats outscore the Titans. Here is the key to the game as I see it: There WILL be turnovers in this game for both teams. With gametime temps around zero (not including windchill) the ball will be hard as a rock, slippery and very difficult to handle. The team that takes care of the ball better, and capitalizes on the other team's miscues, will win. I'll give the edge to the Pats given that they are rested and less banged-up. Sub-zero temps will be enough of a mental obstacle, nagging injuries on top of that will affect the Titans concentration. I'm pretty sure dislocated shoulders getting pummeled by linebackers in arctic weather, and slamming into frozen turf, hurts more than it would under average conditions.Pats 20 Titans 13
 

Power Monster

The Midnight Stalker
Pats will roll here as they shut the run down and force McNair to improvise but his injuries will allow the Pat D to overwhelm him. I see this as being the low ball of the week and a TD score might do the trick. This is for fans of stout defenses but the Pats have had time to rest and they have so many unsung weapons on offense. Chess match of the day!

 

Keerock

Caveman
I am a Pats fan, and this game scares me. My saving grace is that it is at home, which should be a decided advantage for the Pats.I see the NE defense shutting down the Titan offense for the most part, and the Titans D will not have much issue with the Pats O. The game comes down to intangeables... home field advantage, coaching, special teams... slight edge in each to the Pats.My prediction: Pats 13 Titans 10(From my lips to Gods ears)

 

Weapon of Mass Instruction

Watch my feet!
One interesting tidbit and one point I'll make.

Tidbit -- The Titans now have won 30 straight road games when leading going into the fourth quarter. That has to count for something. Doesn't mean they'll win, but that is a strong, long term (4+ years) statistic that has to count for something.

Point -- Much was made last week about the Titans' rush defense #1 ranking as being skewed somewhat because of the lack of rushing attempts they'd faced. Well, obviously, that was put to rest with what they did against the Ravens. Nevertheless, it was a reasonable argument.

Much is being made, vs. the Pats, about the Titans' pass D as being #30 in ypg. This is correct, however, I believe it is also skewed somewhat -- for the converse reason as facing the fewest rush attempts per game. For example, against Houston the Titans dominated from the get go, yet gave up 371 passing yards. The exact same scenario happened the very next week against Carolina. Titans dominated, but gave up 383 yards passing.

Tennessee lost 4 games this year. The average passing yards per game given up in those 4 losses is 212.75 (173, 219, 231, 228) and that was against Pennington, Manning twice, and -- yes -- Tom Brady. My point is that defending the pass is not what beat them this year.

I see this as a very even game. I feel confident the game will be determined by field position, turnovers, and special teams play. I don't feel that either team's offense will be the determining factor. Win the turnover battle and maybe score a d/st TD -- you win. I have a feeling that the Titans' D coordinator has a couple of "Belicheck-like" cards up his sleeve. I guess we'll see.

 

Workhorse

Footballguy
Some of the things I look at are Defensive Passing TDs allowed/Int ratio:Titans: 20 passing TDs allowed, 21 IntsPats: 11 passing TDs allowed, 29 IntsIt's an interesting statistic.

 

Weapon of Mass Instruction

Watch my feet!
Some of the things I look at are Defensive Passing TDs allowed/Int ratio:Titans: 20 passing TDs allowed, 21 IntsPats: 11 passing TDs allowed, 29 IntsIt's an interesting statistic.
No argument. Pats' D is impressive.
 
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It is impressive that they've won all those road games when leading in the 4th quarter.However, they won't be leading going into the 4th quarter this weekend.

 

Sam Quentin

Footballguy
I can't help but think that weather could help Tenn.Their weakness is their pass D, but if game conditions force the Pats to keep the ball out of the air so much, it definitely helps Tennesee.Eddie George/Chris Brown v. A Smith/K Faulk - edge TennMcNair v. Brady - if conditions force these guys to run I have to give an ever so slight edge to McNairDefense - edge to Pats, but not by very much at allIntangibles - Pats - rested, playing at home and ready.Pats have been tough to score on at home, but Jacksonville and their rookie QB did ok a few weeks ago.

 
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Workhorse

Footballguy
2 things:#1: There really aren't any "conditions" that would keep the Pats from throwing the ball. Brady has thrown the ball successfully in blizzards.#2: That "rookie QB" scored a late garbage time TD in the snow on a jump ball. The Pats had stifled Leftwich pretty much all game.

 

The_Man

Footballguy
Again, I’m going in large part from what I saw at the game Saturday. Tennessee played a courageous game and had a great game plan for beating the Ravens. But I saw serious limitations that will play directly into the Pats’ hands.First, let me share an impression (as a Mason owner) of the Titans’ passing game. It seemed to me that many of the Titans’ passing TDs this year came as a result of them pounding the ball, and then suddenly using play action to throw deep downfield (as they did for the McCariens TD vs. Balt). Or, similarly, McNair would break contain, buy time as his WRs went deep, and then throw the bomb. It seemed to me that the big play was a real staple of their success.Now, vs. Baltimore, the Ravens were determined to take away that threat. Play after play, they stayed in Cover Two even as the Titans succeeded in running the ball. So when McNair looked downfield, he either couldn’t throw or did throw and got picked. Similarly, they didn’t rush the passer all-out, sacrificing pressure to ensure they kept McNair contained in the pocket. The big exception to this was on the McCariens play when the Ravens brought Demps up in the box on second-and-short and the Titans made them pay (though even on that play, the WR was well-covered). I think the Pats will be similarly disciplined, will deny McNair the big play, and will count on their front 7 to shut down the run (and their front 7 is better built for run-stuffing than the Ravens are, with Seymour and Washington and guys like Vrabel and McGinest on the outside). Look at the Titans’ drives vs. Baltimore:67 yards – TD (this was their best drive of the day, as they came out and took it to the D)11 yards20 yards18 yards258379 yards – TD (with 48 on the bomb)2153935In effect, after the opening drive, the Ravens held the Titans in check most of the day. I still can’t believe they broke discipline and gave up the bomb. I truly believe that if they leave Demps deep on that play, they would have won the game.New England won’t make the same mistake and will stuff the run better than Baltimore. Not to mention the physical nature of last week’s game, the second straight week of travel, and the emotional letdown of finally beating the Ravens. I think the Titans will be doing well to score 10 points.

 

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