This Sunday, the Patriots head down to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans (4-4) in a rematch of last year’s AFC divisional round game. The Pats enter this contest at 7-2, with hopes of keeping pace with the conference-leading Chiefs.
Here are some things to consider entering this Week 10 matchup.
1. The offense faces a tough matchup in Tennessee
The Patriots’ offense has really found its rhythm in recent weeks, as they’ve figured out a way to shuffle their personnel in order to make up for injuries (specifically Rob Gronkowski and Sony Michel). Tom Brady has been able to rely on the duo of Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon to move the ball down the field and the running back combination of James White and Cordarrelle Patterson has proven to be extremely potent for the team.
This week’s matchup will be challenging as they take on the NFL’s top scoring defense in the Titans, who have a swarming defensive line and a great group of linebackers. For the Pats to be successful, they will need to target the Titans’ susceptible secondary.
2. Will the Pats’ defense continue to succeed?
The Patriots’ defense appeared to turn a corner during last week’s victory against the Packers, as they got after Aaron Rodgers and limited Green Bay to 17 points. One of the key factors in the victory was the pass rush’s ability to keep Rodgers in the pocket, with Trey Flowers and Adrian Clayborn leading the way. That will be essential to replicate this week as they face off with the mobile Marcus Mariota, who is coming off a performance in Dallas where he was able to dissect the Cowboys’ defense with his ability to run for first downs. The Pats will also need to fortify the line of scrimmage to combat the efficient combination of Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry.
Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty have also been essential cogs in the secondary’s revitalization over the last few weeks, and if they continue to play well on Sunday, the Pats will have a good chance of emerging victorious in Nashville.
3. Facing off against ex-Patriots
The Pats will be taking on familiar faces this Sunday when they head to Tennessee. As mentioned earlier, Dion Lewis has become an essential part of the Titans’ offense, after 3 seasons with the Patriots. Lewis is not missed in New England, because James White has emerged into a true #1 back for Josh McDaniels’ offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Titans feature 2 ex-Patriot cornerbacks in Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. Ryan left the Patriots following their victory in Super Bowl LI, while Butler left following the loss in Super Bowl LII. Ryan was a great contributor for the Pats, but was replaced during the 2017 off-season with the signing of Stephon Gilmore. Butler’s departure from New England was much more controversial due to him being benched during Super Bowl LII, which made several pundits question how the Pats’ secondary function without him. Bill Belichick’s decision to move on from Butler has appeared to be wise so far, as Butler has given up 7 touchdowns in 8 games.
The Titans are coached by Mike Vrabel who was a linebacker on the Patriots for 8 seasons, and won 3 Super Bowls with the team. This will be the first time Bill Belichick coaches against a former player.
- Trent Brown (illness) – Questionable
- *Rob Gronkowski (ankle/knee) – Out
- Dont’a Hightower (knee) – Questionable
- Jacob Hollister (hamstring) – Questionable
- Shaq Mason (calf) – Questionable
- **Sony Michel (knee) – Will play
- Jack Conklin (concussion) – Out
- Dane Cruikshank (knee) – Questionable
- Taywan Taylor (foot) – Questionable
- Derrick Morgan (shoulder) – Questionable
- Tajae Sharpe (ankle) – Questionable
- Bennie Logan (knee) – Questionable
Prediction: Patriots 28, Titans 17
Here are my picks for the rest of the NFL’s Week 10 contests (excluding Thursday Night Football)
Last week: 8-4
Saints at Bengals: Saints
Falcons at Browns: Falcons
Lions at Bears: Bears
Cardinals at Chiefs: Chiefs
Redskins at Buccaneers: Buccaneers
Bills at Jets: Jets
Jaguars at Colts: Colts
Chargers at Raiders: Chargers
Seahawks at Rams: Rams
Dolphins at Packers: Packers
Cowboys at Eagles: Eagles
Giants at 49ers: 49ers
* and ** – Updated on game day based on information released by the Patriots