In what will be a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Round showdown at Gillette Stadium, it will be Tom Brady and the New England Patriots going against Marcus Mariota’s Tennessee Titans, but with this head-to-head coming down in Nashville.
The Patriots roll into Smashville with wins in six straight games, and are coming off a huge 31-17 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Brady’s offense has been rolling, too, with at least 31 points in five of their last six games.
The Titans, meanwhile, find themselves 4-4 under first-year head coach (and former Patriots linebacker) Mike Vrabel, and with a 28-14 win over the Dallas Cowboys to their name last Monday night.
This will be the first regular-season meeting between these teams since Dec. 2015, and the Patriots’ first visit to Tennessee since Sept. 2012. Overall, the Patriots have made just three visits to Tennessee since the franchise’s relocation from Houston to Tennessee, with wins in all but their first visit to the Music City.
Here are some of the 98.5 The Sports Hub’s thoughts on this weekend…
Ty Anderson (writer/columnist, 985TheSportsHub.com)
I think it’s fair to say that you no longer have to worry about the Patriot offense. And after Sunday’s victory over the Packers, I’m pretty sure that you’re once again witnessing the yearly gelling of the New England defense into something formidable. Going against this Tennessee offense, it’s easy to see the Pats coming through with another building-block performance on the defensive side of things. The Patriots haven’t played their best football on the road, sure, but they’ve also won back-to-back road games with victories over the Bears and Bills. And based on the ticket demand for this weekend’s game down in Nashville, I have a feeling this won’t feel like a road game for the Patriots.
Patriots 27, Titans 17.
Adam Jones (The Adam Jones Show)
The Titans supposedly have the “top” defense in the NFL. Pfft. Bill Belichick will try and prove a point about how right he was by benching Malcolm Butler — spoiler alert: he wasn’t — and the former Patriots corner will probably get flamed by Phillip Dorsett. Maybe Chris Hogan? Or Cordarrelle Patterson? You get the point…
Regardless, I’ll look forward to all the phone calls about how much Malcolm Butler sucks and how brilliant Bill was for benching him next week. Bahhhhh.
I’m not predicting anything silly. I just don’t love the spot for New England. The Patriots have played poorly on the road overall and they’re coming off a big win over the Packers. Titans will turn this into a rock fight. And Belichick disciples/proteges have done well in their first turns against him.
Titans 23, Patriots 22.
Matt McCarthy (98.5 The Sports Hub)
People around these parts are overrating the Titans. This is, for the most part, the same team the Patriots steamrolled in Foxboro in January. Sure, Mike Mularkey isn’t around anymore to run his stone age offense, but that unit can’t possibly be leaps and bounds better than it was last year. The talent just isn’t there. I expect Dion Lewis to give the Patriots some trouble, but the Titans aren’t good enough offensively to repeatedly exploit that matchup. The Titans need to win ugly, and it’s hard to win ugly against Brady and Belichick. You need to be nearly perfect to beat the Pats and the Titans won’t accomplish that.
Patriots 27, Titans 17.
Mike ‘Sarge’ Riley (98.5 The Sports Hub)
Timing is right for Tennessee and Dion Lewis coming off his best performance this season, with over 120 yards against Dallas with a touchdown. But the timing is better for the Patriots defense with their best performance of 2018 coming with last week’s 31-17 win against Green Bay. And the Patriots are too dangerous with running back James White on the screen game. And not to be forgotten is the way Tom Brady’s comfort level with Josh Gordon has significantly grown over the last few weeks.
Pats spoil Tennessee’s reunion weekend and head into their bye week with a victory.
Patriots 27, Titans 19.
Matt Dolloff, Writer/Producer, 985TheSportsHub.com
Get ready for another rock fight on the road. The Titans have by far the stingiest red zone defense in the league and the Patriots still haven’t sorted things out in that area of the field, so expect a bit of trouble punching the ball in. At least early on. The Pats will figure it out on offense as the game goes along and the defense will make Marcus Mariota look like the inconsistent passer he is by keeping him in the pocket. This will be their best defensive performance yet against a “mobile quarterback”, but since it’s a road game and they have yet to put together a complete effort, I expect this to continue on Sunday and hopefully get better after the bye.
Patriots 23, Titans 13.