by Jake A
Edited by Matt Rooney and Yagev Levi
Coming off an impressive victory against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, the Patriots will turn their attention over to the Tennessee Titans (4-4). As much as I believe the Patriots should win this game somewhat easily, do not count out the Titans. You can already see that with first year head coach Mike Vrabel, there is more of an aggressive and ‘no fear’ mindset in the locker room.
Here are the three keys to the game…
Stop the Run
Recently, the Titans have featured a deadly running attack led by former Patriot, Dion Lewis. In the last two weeks, the Titans have rushed for 289 yards which is an astounding 144.5 yards per game. The emergence of Lewis and the running game has really taken the pressure off Marcus Mariota (a huge disappointment so far this season). It is vital that the Patriots stop the run game on early downs so that they put Marcus Mariota in third and long situations. If the Pats can do just that, they should have no problem stopping the Titans offense.
Take Chances Down the Field
We have all heard about Malcolm Butler’s struggles in Tennessee and it is true that he’s statistically been one of the worst corners in the NFL this season. But it is not just Butler the Pats should look to pick on. They should go after another former Patriot in Logan Ryan and Adoree Jackson as well. Both Ryan (elite tackler) and Jackson (elite speed) bring a multitude of skills to the table and are solid players, but both will, more likely than not, be covering receivers that are bigger than them. Ryan (5’11) will most likely see a lot of time on Josh Gordon (6’5) and Jackson (5’11) will be on Chris Hogan (6’1). We haven’t even mentioned Rob Gronkowski, who could return from injury this week, and if he’s good to go the Pats should absolutely look to get him the ball as much as possible. With these mismatches at the receiver position, the Pats should look to take some chances down the field. Look for a big game from Josh Gordon.
Get Pressure on Mariota
We all saw what the Patriots did to the Titans offensive line last year in the playoffs as they recorded 8 sacks. The Patriots did especially well getting pressure off the right edge in that game after former First Team All-Pro RT, Jack Conklin, went down. News came out today that Jack Conklin is out for Sunday’s game, so the Patriots should once again have an absolute field day getting pressure off the edge. Not only that, the Patriots defensive line has played better recently, with guys like Adrian Clayborn and Lawrence Guy really stepping up. The Patriots will try to get to Marcus Mariota early and often in this game.
Prediction: Patriots 30 Titans 17