Patriots Playoffs: Protecting Brady from Tennessee's pass rush

Championship Weekend broadcast info

Championship Weekend broadcast info

Safety Duron Harmon and his buddies on the New England defense know they have to deal with Marcus Mariota's "unique skill" set when the Tennessee Titans visit the Patriots for Saturday night's AFC divisional playoff game. The Patriots are easily the biggest Sports Interaction betting favourites of the weekend. There's going to be times that that happens.

The Titans have three players who once played for New England: starting right guard Josh Kline, cornerback Logan Ryan and backup quarterback Matt Cassel. They need to score touchdowns early to avoid a blowout loss, because the Patriots rarely lose leads and they won't succumb to the pressure and collapse like Kansas City did last week.

To nose tackle Austin Johnson, a Galloway Township native, and the rest of the Tennessee Titans, it's just another game.

But the Chiefs are not the Patriots, a team that has spent multiple times in the postseason.

Not to be outdone, New England's defense put together a performance for the ages. Mariota threw two touchdown passes - one to himself - and helped the Titans erase a 21-3 halftime deficit in the game. In total, Marcus Mariota was sacked seven times.

"At first glance, it (was) OK", Mariota said of his season.

They were downright dominant in a divisional round victory, smoking the Titans 35-14.

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Nick Foles recovered a fumble two plays later and initially had a touchdown, but then a review showed he was down at the 1. Foles heated up after a poor first half, but the Eagles settled for field goals after two long drives in the second half.

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Marvin Bagley III had 30 points and 11 rebounds for Duke, which was without Hall of Fame coach Mike Krzyzewski due to a virus. The Spartans (16-3, 4-2) are struggling, losing two of three games with an overtime win over Rutgers in between the setbacks.

Just about everything New England did Saturday worked, with little counter from Tennessee.

Mularkey said Wednesday that Murray is not close enough to play Saturday night in New England.

The Patriots removed Hogan from the injury report, and he will play for the first time since December 11, when he caught one pass for one yard in a 27-20 loss to the Dolphins.

Playing in his first game since December 11 and just his second since Week 8 in October, Chris Hogan had only one catch, but it went for a touchdown that gave the Patriots a 21-7 lead at halftime.

It was a stunning choke job for the Chiefs considering how dominant they were in the first half.

McNair did his best to lead the Titans back on the following drive, getting to New England's 33-yard line. Now, some of those are plays where Tom simply chose to take the sack, but that number still seems very large when you consider that he was sacked just 15 times in 12 regular season games last season. Leads NFL with 43 rush TDs & ranks 2nd in league with 5,614 rush yards since 2013.

Could this be the last run for this Patriots group? ESPN published an article on how there is turmoil at the top of the dynasty between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick, and star quarterback Tom Brady. He's Brady's go-to receiver these days and the Titans know this. He's been far more effective than DeMarco Murray for most of the season, and now that he's in the featured role, the Titans can better employ their smash-mouth style and have a better chance of winning.

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