The New England Patriots experienced a let down last week when a tenth-straight first-round playoff bye slipped away in a devastating home loss to the Miami Dolphins. For the first time in a decade, the Patriots will take the field on Wild Card weekend, hosting the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans on Saturday night.
Although it might not be the scenario New England was hoping for, the Patriots have stayed locked in all week in preparation for a tough matchup to open the postseason. The Patriots have loads of postseason experience and understand how to win these kinds of games.
But on the other hand, the Foxborough weather could actually aid the Titans. Forecasts indicate a cold, driving rain for much of the night – conditions favorable for a run-heavy offense like Tennessee. New England has struggled to move the ball on the ground this year while Titans’ running back Derrick Henry won the league’s rushing title by amassing 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns.
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No. 6 Tennessee Titans at No. 3 New England Patriots
Saturday, January 4, 2019 at 8:15 p.m.
Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
*All odds and betting info courtesy of OddsShark and originally posted by BetOnline
SPREAD: New England (-5 at -110)
OVER/UNDER: 44.5 (O: -114 | U: -106)
While Henry is a focal point of the team’s offense, Tennessee has experienced a turnaround following the insertion of Ryan Tannehill into the lineup. Head coach Mike Vrabel benched Marcus Mariota in favor or Tannehill and the Titans have since gone 7-3.
Defensively, Jurrell Casey continues to lead the Titans front, causing problems against the Patriots throughout his career matchups with the team. Tennessee is also strong at linebacker with Wesley Woodyard, Daren Bates, and Boston College product Harold Landry leading the charge. The secondary is deep too with former Patriot Logan Ryan leading the charge this season.
New England Patriots
The Patriots offense has been suspect for much of the season, mainly stemming from the lack of tight end involvement over the season. New England had the lowest tight end target percentage in the NFL this season at under 10 percent.
Without consistent production from tight ends, the Patriots were unable to run the ball effectively as well as spark the passing game for a decent stretch. While the rushing production has improved thanks to the emergence of Elandon Roberts as a fullback, New England’s offense is still sputtering.
Tom Brady has shown his age a little more in the final half of the season. Though he is still the most prolific postseason quarterback in NFL history, there has to be some doubt as to whether he can truly get it done this season.
Defensively, the Patriots have been rock solid with the exception of the regular-season finale against the Dolphins. Last Sunday, Ryan Fitzpatrick moved the ball at will, Devante Parker burned Stephon Gilmore throughout the day, and New England couldn’t contain Miami running back Patrick Laird. New England is hoping that was just an outlier performance and the Patriots have stayed determined to leave that loss in the past.
Talks of the Patriots 20-year long dynasty ending have never been more widespread. The Titans could spell the end for New England’s dominance, but not if the New England weather has anything to say about it.
Tom Brady excels in cold, inclement weather games and Saturday will be no different with a wintery mix expected to hamper the teams late in the game. With the game on the line, Brady will find a way.
Pick: New England doesn’t cover the spread and also hits the under but will come away victorious, 24-20.