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Patriots vs. Titans: 3 keys to the game, fun facts, prediction

Ryan Hannable
November 10, 2018 - 10:22 am
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Sunday might be a home game for the Patriots in Nashville.

Each year it seems like Patriots fans take over an opposing road city for at least one game and this is the game this year. New England comes in winners of six straight, while the Titans just beat the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.

Given their record is 4-4, the Titans likely need the game more in the standings, but the Patriots want to win their seventh in a row and enter the bye week on a high note.

The last time the Patriots played in Tennessee was in 2012 where they came away with a 34-13 win in the season opener.

Patriots vs. Titans
Sunday, November 11, 2018
1:00 p.m., CBS
Patriots -7, over/under 47

3 keys to the game

Contain Marcus Mariota 

One of the biggest issues for the Patriots defense not only this year, but in previous years, is stopping mobile quarterbacks and the Titans have one of the better ones in Mariota. Speaking on Friday, Bill Belichick discussed how fast he is and that will need to be a major emphasis of the Patriots defense in the game. It’s worth pointing out the quarterback only has five touchdown passes in six games, so if they can keep him in the pocket and force him to make plays with his arm, they likely have a good chance of winning.

Don’t be intimidated by Titans defense 

Tennessee comes into the game with the No. 1 ranked scoring defense in the league, allowing just over 17 points a game, but the reality is it may not be as good as the numbers say. The Titans have faced some pretty poor offenses statistically, including the Dolphins, Bills, Jaguars and Cowboys. For his career, Tom Brady has had no issue facing the No. 1 ranked scoring defense as he’s 16-5 in those games and has thrown 40 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

Expose Titans pass defense, especially Malcolm Butler

Everyone knows about Butler’s struggles in coverage through the first half of the year and the Patriots should take full advantage. It’s likely he will be matched up against Josh Gordon on the outside a lot and Brady should look his way on almost every play. Butler has struggled against double moves and Gordon is a player who has the ability to beat him deep on a number of different routes. Expect Gordon to have another big game. Also, in Brady’s last four games he has a 112.9 passer rating on passes that travel 10 or more yards in the air, up considerably from earlier in the season.

Fun facts

1. Under Belichick, the Patriots are 73-18 against quarterbacks that are 25 or younger.

2. Stephon Gilmore has 12 passes defensed this season, which are tied for the most in the NFL. His career-high is 18, set in 2015.

3. Patriots opponents have had 11 drives in the last two minutes of the first and/or second half this year and have not scored on any of them.

4. If Brady throws three touchdowns, he will tie Brett Favre for the second-most (508) regular-season touchdown passes in NFL history. Peyton Manning has the most with 539.

5. According to Kevin Duffy of the Boston Herald, since 2014 the Patriots are 25-1 in games played between Weeks 5-10. They've won by an average score of 33-19. 

Prediction 

Patriots 34, Titans 20

We like the Patriots to win comfortably. Tennessee may have the No. 1 ranked scoring defense, but it is vulnerable in a lot of areas. If Brady can feel comfortable in the pocket, he has the ability to pick the defense apart. The Titans’ offense isn’t that great either, as the only real threat is Dion Lewis. Expect the Patriots to devote a lot of players to stopping Lewis and make Mariota beat them.

Related: New Patriots S Obi Melifonwu excited to join hometown team