Playoff Preview: Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots
Derick E. Hingle (USA Today Sports)
The time has finally come, playoff football is here.
The No. 1 seeded New England Patriots welcome the Tennessee Titans tonight at Gillette Stadium, after the visitors came up with an impressive 22-21 comeback victory over the Kansas City Chiefs when trailing 21-3 in the third quarter.
While you have to give them credit for battling back, if the Titans go down early to the Patriots, they might as well get their planes ready, especially considering the delay they dealt with yesterday.
Tennessee will be without running back DeMarco Murray, so that will leave the bell-cow that is Derrick Henry to try and carry the load. Henry will be used a lot considering the Titans will want to control the time of possession so that Tom Brady and Co. don’t get into a groove offensively.
In the passing game, the Patriots will have someone spy quarterback Marcus Mariota, as he is a dual-threat under center. Wily veteran tight end Delanie Walker has only had five receptions in three career games against the Patriots, but three of them went for touchdowns.
Eric Decker is not the threat he used to be when he was the No. 2 option with Brandon Marshall while playing for the New York Jets or the No. 3 option with the Denver Broncos. Other threats to look out for will be Rishard Matthews, who Patriots fans know well with his days playing for the Miami Dolphins, and Corey Davis, who stands at 6-foot-2.
Offensively, the Patriots will be without running backs Rex Burkhead and Mike Gillislee, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Expect a nice mix of James White and Dion Lewis out of the backfield, as the extra rest has certainly helped the dynamic duo.
The hosts will also welcome back wide receiver Chris Hogan, who has been sidelined seven out of the last eight games.
If the team gets off to a strong start, doubt will start to creep into the heads’ of the Titans, making them one dimensional on offense, which should help fuel the Patriots back to the AFC Championship.