In March, the Tennessee Titans signed three unheralded free agents to contracts that totaled seven years and $13.35 million. The Patriots (13-3) are almost a two-touchdown favorite over a Titans team that sneaked into the playoffs after losing three of its last five games and finished the season with a minus-22 point differential, the only postseason team in either conference to allow more points than it scored.
Pity the poor Tennessee Titans, the latest sacrificial lamb for the New England Patriots in the playoffs. In reality, this has been a very disappointing campaign for Mariota. The Patriots ranked 31st, allowing 4.7 yards per rushing play during the regular season. Maybe the cold weather in the playoffs hurts more on the old bones of a veteran and young quarterbacks don't feel the pain. Mariota's passer rating was 79.3, and he completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,232 yards, 13 TDs and 15 INTs. It is about as unfair a matchup as it gets.
"It looked like it was meant for them to win", Harmon said.
We're entering the fourth season of the annual South Point-lined Play of the Day competition, effective July 1. "Now, our focus is only New England", Ryan said after Wednesday's Titans practice. The longer the Titans are able to keep the Patriots off the field, the more they enhance their chances to win.
Key player: Let's not overthink this. Brady's team is 11-1 in that span. He has full control to make the audibles he wants. "It just shows how tough they are, how fundamental they are and that they're ready to bring it in the clutch times", said Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski during his press conference on Tuesday.
Mariota, 24, spoke highly of Brady earlier this week.
The Titans know that another slow start will likely result in a loss against the Patriots. The NFL's stellar officiating crew in NY put their thumb on the scale in favor of the bigger Super Bowl draw of the Pats when they raped the Steelers out of the winning touchdown and guaranteed the homefield advantage to the Pats.
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HEISMAN BROTHERS: Mariota, the 2014 Heisman victor, and Derrick Henry, the 2015 Heisman victor, combined to turn in the best rushing performance in franchise history in the wild-card round. The prized free agent has not exactly been the player the Titans hoped he would be, but he has been solid for them at times.
"You're only one injury away", Jones said.
This game has mismatch written in indelible ink, which has the Titans both irked by the nationwide disrespect and understanding of the circumstances.
However, the Patriots' rush defense has not been reliable under coordinator Matt Patricia.
Though he has now surpassed his idol and San Francisco 49ers legend Joe Montana, who won four Super Bowl titles, debate still remains as to who is the greatest quarterback of all time, Montana having never lost on the biggest stage while Brady has tasted defeat twice.
Unsurprisingly, the Patriots, who had a first-round bye and home advantage, are the favourites ahead of Saturday's game.
Round two of the NFL Playoffs is upon us.