Having marched through the regular season with 13-3 record, the Patriots should have too much firepower against the Titans, who finished the regular season 10-7, and scraped past the Kansas City Chiefs last weekend with a 22-21 victory in the first round of the playoffs. They will be facing a Patriots team that has had some distractions since the last time they played.
The last two came in December when Miami's Kenyan Drake and Pittsburgh's Le'Veon Bell joined Kansas City's Kareem Hunt and Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon as players to eclipse the century mark against the Patriots.
While the Titans were pulling off their major comeback against the Chiefs, the Patriots were going through another bye week, but one that was filled with controversy. Add in the ESPN.com story that suggests Brady, Belichick and owner Robert Kraft aren't seeing eye-to-eye, and the ingredients seem to be in place for a command performance by a New England team which seems to thrive on turning controversy into motivation. Sure, if things get out of hand, Josh McDaniels should dial up the run to keep Brady healthy, but don't over complicate things if you're the Patriots.
"He's very disappointed. I don't know if I've ever seen anyone work in a training room like he has to try and get better". "I would say that's disappointing to hear that someone would express that, or a writer would express that, because it's so far from what my beliefs are about my teammates". Belichick simply won't allow any outside stimuli to affect his team.
On Saturday, his opposite number will be 24-year-old Marcus Mariota, making for the largest gap in age (16 years) between the starting quarterbacks in an National Football League playoff game. Not only can Mariota throw the ball, but he can also run it well (313 rushing yards this season and five touchdowns) and can even catch touchdowns from himself. If they don't get to him, at least bring the heat to his doorstep.
"I've said this many times; it's hard to see him go to another level of intensity because he's always intense", Gronkowski said.
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But Mariota was also sixth in the NFL (Brady was first) in third-down passer rating. Demarco Murray has been ruled out, so a steady diet of Henry runs, plus Marcus Mariota quarterback runs will be essential for the Titans to move the ball and control time of possession.
"Whoever does that better is going to win the game over the course of 60 minutes", he said.
CBS, with Jim Nantz, Tony Romo, Tracy Wolfson and do I really have to list Jay Feely? You know what I'm saying? Mariota had some bad throws and plays, but he scrambled for some big first downs and made some big throws to win the game. I want to make him look like Blake Bortles if I can and try to catch a couple picks. Few teams beat Tom Brady in Foxborough; that'd be like Jim Kirk losing a fistfight on the Enterprise bridge. "I'm not really looking at it like that".
Cornerback Logan Ryan, a former Patriots player now with the Titans, has been limited in practice with an ankle injury.