2018 NFL Playoffs
AFC Divisional Playoffs
#5 Tennessee Titans at #1 New England Patriots
Saturday, January 13, 2018, 8:15 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Gillette Stadium – Foxborough, Massachusetts
Opening Line: New England -13 1/2 (-120)
Current Line: New England -13 1/2
Opening Total: 47
Current Total: 48
Opening Money Line: Patriots -850 / Titans +600
Current Money Line: Patriots -1100 / Titans +700
The 13-3 New England Patriots are the #1 seed in the AFC and won the AFC East for the ninth straight season. They are coming off a first round playoff bye, but they had the distraction of reports of dissent between owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady. The trio has won five Super Bowl rings together but had to issue a joint statement denying the reports. The Patriots look to get back to business as they host the #5 seed Tennessee Titans in the Divisional Playoffs Saturday night in Foxborough. The winner will advance to the AFC Championship next Sunday to play either the #2 seed Pittsbiurgh Steelers or #3 seed Jacksonville Jaguars.
Tennessee is 10-7 this year. The Titans finished second in the AFC South and are the #5 seed in the AFC. Tennessee returned to the playoffs for the first time since 2008 by upsetting the #4 seed AFC West Champion Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in the Wild Card game last Saturday. The Titans trailed 21-3 at halftime but outscored the Chiefs 19-0 in the second half to stun them. Tennessee was an 8.5 point underdog against Kansas City and the total was 44.
New England leads the series 24-16-1 against Tennessee. The Patriots have won six straight games against the Titans, the last four by 17 points or more including 33-16 at home in 2015. The Titans haven’t beaten the Patriots since 2002. This is the third playoff meeting between the Patriots and Titans and first since 2004.
Tennessee is coached by Mike Mularkey. Tennessee has home losses to the Oakland Raiders 26-16 and Los Angeles Rams 27-23, plus road losses to the Houston Texans 57-14, Miami Dolphins 16-10, Pittsburgh Steelers 40-17, Arizona Cardinals 12-7 and San Francisco 49ers 25-23. The Titans have home wins over the Seattle Seahawks 33-27, Indianapolis Colts 36-22, Baltimore Ravens 23-20, Cincinnati Bengals 24-20, Houston Texans 24-13 and Jacksonville Jaguars 15-10, plus road wins over the Jaguars 37-16, Cleveland Browns 12-9 in overtime and Colts 20-16. The win against the Jaguars last snapped a three game losing streak for the Titans and clinched a playoff spot. Tennessee is 9-7-1 ATS and the total is 9-8 this season.
New England is coached by Bill Belichick. The Patriots have home losses to the Kansas City Chiefs 42-27 and against the Carolina Panthers 33-30, plus a road loss at the Miami Dolphins 27-20. New England has road wins over the New Orleans Saints 36-20, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 19-14, New York Jets 24-17, Denver Broncos 41-16 and Buffalo Bills 23-3 and Pittsburgh Steelers 27-24, plus home wins over the Houston Texans 36-33, Atlanta Falcons 23-7, Los Angeles Chargers 21-13, Oakland Raiders 33-8, Dolphins 35-17, Bills 37-16 and Jets 26-6. The Patriots have won three straight games 11 of the last 12 games. Against the Jets, New England was a 17 point favorite and the total was 43.5. The Patriots are 11-5 ATS and the over is 7-9 this season.
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Tennessee is being outscored 22-21 this season. The Titans are #17 in points allowed and #19 in scoring. Tennessee averages 314 yards per game on offense including 199 passing and 115 rushing yards. The Titans are #23 in total and passing offense. On defense, the Titans are allowing 328 total yards per game including 239 passing and 89 rushing yards. Tennessee is #4 in rush defense but #25 in pass defense. Tennessee is 76/212 on third and fourth conversions and opponents are 88/230. Tennessee has forced 43 sacks and allowed 35 this season. The Titans are -4 in turnovers and have allowed four defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota has completed 62% of his passes for 3,232 yards with 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, plus 60 carries for 312 yards and 5 touchdowns. He has been sacked 27 times. Matt Cassel is the back-up and has thrown for 162 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions. He has been sacked 8 times.
Running back Derrick Henry has 176 carries for 744 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 11 catches for 136 yards and a touchdown. DeMarco Murray has 184 carries for 659 yards with 6 touchdowns, along with 39 catches for 266 yards and a touchdown. He is out with a knee injury. No other running back has more than 8 carries. Jalston Fowler has a rushing touchdown.
Tight end Delanie Walker has 74 catches for 807 yards and three touchdowns, and also has a rushing touchdown. Receiver Rishard Matthews has 53 catches for 795 yards and 4 touchdowns. Eric Decker has 54 catches for 563 yards and a touchdown. Taywan Taylor has 16 catches for 231 yards and a touchdown, plus 43 rushing yards. Corey Davis has 13 catches for 149 yards. Jonnu Smith has 18 catches for 157 yards and 2 touchdowns. He is probable with a concussion. Five defensive players are listed on the injury report.
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New England is outscoring opponents 29-19 this season. The Patriots are #2 in scoring and #5 in points allowed. New England averages 394 yards per game on offense including 276 passing and 11 rushing yards. New England is #1 in total and #2 in passing offense. Even the rushing game is #10. The Patriots are allowing 366 yards per game on defense including 251 passing and 115 rushing yards. New England is #20 or worse in all three categories. The Patriots are 90/215 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 92/231. New England has forced 42 sacks and allowed 35 this season. The Patriots are +6 in turnovers, but have allowed three defensive touchdowns.
Quarterback Tom Brady has completed 66.3% of his passes for 4,577 yards with 32 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, along with 25 carries for 28 rushing yards. He has been sacked 35 times. He is probable with an Achilles’ injury that he been abttling the second half of the season. Brian Hoyer is the back-up.
Running back Dion Lewis has 180 carries for 896 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 32 catches for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns. Mike Gillislee has 104 carries for 383 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is doubtful with a knee injury. Rex Burkhead has 64 carries for 264 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 30 catches for 254 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with a knee injury. James White has 43 carries for 171 yards and has 56 catches for 429 yards and 3 touchdowns. He is probable with an ankle injury.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski has 69 catches for 1,084 yards and 8 touchdowns. Receiver Brandin Cooks has 65 catches for 1,082 yards and 7 touchdowns. Danny Amendola has 61 catches for 659 yards and 2 touchdowns. Chris Hogan has 34 catches for 439 yards and 5 touchdowns. He is probable with a shoulder injury. Receiver Julian Edelman is out with a torn ACL suffered in the pre-season. Twelve defensive players and four offensive linemen are listed on the injury report.
The over is 4-1 in New England in this series. The favorite is 5-2 ATS in this series recently. The Patriots have covered four the last five games overall against the Titans and four of the last five at home against the Titans.
People are trying to talk themselves into the Titans pulling the massive upset. But let’s be serious here, even if Brady and Belichick are throwing punches at each other on the sideline, the Patriots are going to roll in this game. The Titans had a gritty and game performance last week in Kansas City, but it ends Saturday night.