Well, the Patriots seem to be back on track. After consecutive loses, the team was able to bounce back, defeating the Houston Texans 27-6 on Sunday Night. The defense was phenomenal and Gronk looked good, but it was not a perfect game. There was another special teams mistake that, because of the defense, luckily did not lead to any points. There were also more injuries that struck the team. Defensive lineman Dominique Easley and running back LeGarrette Blount are both done for the year. Devin McCourty suffered a high ankle sprain and, while he is not done for the year, will miss some time. However, we must think like Belichick and not focus on the past. On to Tennessee.
Marcus Mariota and the Tennessee Titans will visit Foxboro for a 1:00 game on Sunday. This should be an easier game, despite all of the injuries that the team is facing. If there is one thing that Belichick is good at (there’s more than one thing), that is containing a mobile quarterback. He makes them beat the Patriots with their arm. Mariota looks like he could be a pretty good quarterback in the league, but it would be a difficult task to come in as a rookie and beat this Belichick coached defense.
The Titans offense ranks 29th in total defense. They are 24th in passing and 22nd in rushing. The Patriots defense, on the other hand, ranks 6th in total defense. They rank 7th against the pass and 10th against the run. The Patriots are also second in the league in sacks with 42, two behind the Broncos. The Titans’ 44 sacks allowed are second most in the league, only one behind the 49ers. While Easley’s loss will definitely affect the pass rush, they have enough capable linemen where they should be able to get by. However, do not underestimate the loss of Easley. He was playing like the top 10 talent they believed they were getting at the end of the draft. He is as explosive as any defensive tackle in the entire league.
The strong point, if we will call it that, of the Titans is their defense. They are 9th in passing yards per game, 17th in rushing yards per game, and 13th in total defense. Not bad for a 3-10 team. However, they are given the unfortunate task of stopping Tom Brady this week. That is never an easy thing to do. Stopping the run may be easier than expected, though. Dion Lewis is already on the shelf and LeGarrette Blount will now join him. Not that Blount is anything special, personally, I don’t think he is very good at all, but the depth at the running back position is so thin that any injury could be costly. Brandon Bolden and James White will have to step in and carry most of the load. However, the team has signed Montee Ball and they are meeting with Steven Jackson as well. Ball could be a decent back when and if he gets in shape. We could chalk the failure in Denver up to not using him properly, but there is also the strong possibility that he is a bust.
It will be interesting to see if recently signed Leonard Hankerson plays a role in the offense. He is coming off an injury and, as we know, it is not an easy offense to pick up, so he may not even be active on Sunday. Even if he is, we must have realistic expectations for the receiver. Yes, he is as good of a pickup as you will get at this time of year, but he was still cut for a reason.
The Patriots should win this game. The matchups favor the Patriots across the board. However, they favored them across the board against the Eagles as well, and we all know how that game ended. One thing to watch is special teams. It appears that the revolving door of return men has landed on Danny Amendola and I would not be surprised if it stays with him. He has the most reliable hands on the team. That being said, I would send him out there and tell him to fair catch the ball every time because the team cannot afford another injury to a key offensive player.
Oh, I'll just leave this here too...