In an outcome that few expected, the Tennessee Titans bested the Kansas City Chiefs during the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. Marcus Mariota and Tennessee will now head to Massachusetts for the AFC Divisional Round against the New England Patriots on Saturday night at 8:15 p.m. ET on CBS (live streams at CBS All Access, Yahoo! Sports, and FuboTV).
Opening as the biggest favorites among in the Divisional Round, the Patriots are heavily favored (13.5 points) over the Titans heading into the matchup. With the inconsistent play from the Titans this season, it’s not surprising that the Patriots — who have much more experience in postseason play -- are expected to win by quite a bit.
There was some off-field drama in Foxborough in recent weeks, implying that not all is copacetic among the key members of the franchise, with owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady on one side and head coach Bill Belichick on the other. All three are consummate professionals, though, and won’t likely let what’s happening behind the scenes affect their play come game day.
The Titans will, however, hope to capitalize on the waves made. Coming off one of the biggest comebacks in playoff history, Tennessee was able to pull off an incredibly impressive offensive second-half performance during the Wild Card Round against the Chiefs to clinch a 22-21 win in the last moments of the game. Not only was there a touchdown pass by Mariota to Mariota, but the QB also had a hell of a block that opened a lane for a 22-yard run by Derrick Henry.
Henry, the second-year running back out of Alabama, had his coming-out game against the Chiefs and seems ready to take over as the No. 1 rusher for the Titans, which would mean DeMarco Murray’s time in Tennessee could be coming to an end this offseason. Henry is fresh off of a career-high performance, claiming 156 yards rushing on 23 carries with one touchdown — in addition to two receptions for 35 yards. It’s clear that Tennessee’s success on offense is directly related to the success of Mariota and Henry.
People were counting the Titans out against the Chiefs, and yet here we are. They’ll have a much tougher time trying to get the best of the Patriots, but it’s possible.
Time, TV channel, and streaming info
- Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
- Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
- TV: CBS
- Streaming: CBS All Access | Yahoo! Sports | FuboTV
- Odds: The Patriots are 13.5-point favorites.
Titans vs. Patriots news:
- Titans safety Kevin Byard wants to make Brady look like regular-season Blake Bortles on Saturday night, complete with a handful of interceptions.
- Being a versatile quarterback is usually expected -- especially with incoming, young players — but Brady hasn’t had a rushing touchdown since 2015.
- Tennessee orchestrated one of the best comebacks of all time last weekend against the Chiefs, and if it can keep the offensive momentum from the second half, it could give the Patriots something to be concerned about.
In his first playoff game, Marcus Mariota became the first quarterback to lead a comeback of at least 18 points since 1957. He managed to create two more iconic moments while he was at it. His touchdown pass to himself was just the second time that has happened in NFL history and the first time its ever happened in the postseason. The other moment — my favorite — was his lead block that paved the way for Derrick Henry’s game clinching 22-yard run. It was the perfect example of what Mariota is to the Titans: Everything.
- The Patriots are used to success in the postseason, but the team still has some weak spots that the Titans could take advantage of, according to scouts.
The Patriots best bet would be to build up an early lead and force teams to throw the ball because their weakness against the run doesn’t matter if Marcus Mariota needs to pass to keep pace with New England. But if a team can grind out long drives and control the clock, then the Patriots won’t be able to build a big lead.
Titans vs. Patriots predictions:
This matchup opened with the biggest spread of all the Divisional Round games, and it’s no surprise why. The postseason monster that is the New England Patriots will almost assuredly win their first playoff game of the year. This is the only game in the Divisional Round in which the SB Nation experts agreed on across the board with everyone predicting a New England win.
Check out our Divisional Round picks for even more expert opinions.