The Patriots are at home for the last time in the regular season Sunday against a pretty desirable opponent. The Tennessee Titans are definitely rebuilding and are definitely at the bottom of the barrel in terms of wins and losses in the NFL. That is not to say, however, that they are void of talent. I’d say this is an easy Pats win, but that’s not to completely discount the opponent on the other side.
Offensively speaking, I wouldn’t call the Titans good yet, but they have pieces. They’re mainly young pieces who show signs of eventually succeeding in the NFL. Unfortunately for Titans fans, potential doesn’t win you the game on Sunday. The headliner, of course, is the rookie quarterback from Oregon, Marcus Mariota. Yeah, we get it- he won the Heisman last year, he was one of the most efficient guys in college his senior year, he’s the first quarterback from Hawaii, whatever. But seriously, I thought he’d be awful in the NFL. The only reason I didn’t think he would get hurt is because I thought the Titans had one of the better O-lines in football. Well, they’ve given up 44 sacks this year, so I’m stupid.
Anyways, Mariota has played very well, all things considered. He’s accounted for 21 touchdowns (19 through the air) while only throwing 10 picks. Not bad for a rookie whose best weapons are tight end Delanie Walker (overrated severely, trust me) and Kendall Wright (underperforms, that is, if he’s even on the field in the first place). Eventually, if Dorial Green-Beckahm and Antonio Andrews hit their stride and improve further, the Titans might have a solid core to their offense. But again, that doesn’t win Sunday’s game. The Patriots, who are coming off an excellent defensive performance against a Texans’ offense is downright better than Tennessee’s, shouldn’t have any serious problems.
Offensively for the Patriots, this is a week where I want to see improvement. Let’s get one thing out of the way first- Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski being listed as questionable for the game Sunday is literally nothing to worry about. Like, at all. They’ll both be in; they’ll both be playing. And if all goes to plan, they should both be done by halfway through the fourth quarter. I ain’t gonna hold back when I say this, but they have looked bad on the offensive side of the ball for the last month. Injuries shouldn’t be a reason that the team falls apart on one side of the ball, especially when you have the depth that the Patriots have. Josh McDaniels hasn’t impressed me with his predictable play-calling, so I’d really appreciate it if he made me look like a stupid blogger who doesn’t know what he’s talking about on Sunday. Now, he cannot get the offense moving. Period.
Tennessee is in the middle of the pack when it comes to passing defense, so I see this as an opportunity to get Brandon LaFell the ball. He quite frankly better be hurt, because I don’t think he’s hustling out there- he looks lackadaisical and he doesn’t finish his routes. So let’s change that, Brandon, okay? They’re going to need a down-the-field receiver who can stretch the field to win in the playoffs, and like it or not, for better or worse, #19 is our guy. LaFell showed he can do it last year, so it’s time to do it this year. I’d be happy if he came away from this game with 4-6 catches with 60+ yards. I’m not necessarily a stats guy, but since he’s not doing the little things, I want to see numbers out of him.
Aside from that, it’s time for New England to readjust again in the backfield. This time, it’s for life without LeGarrette Blount. They signed Montee Ball this past week, and he was really good at Wisconsin, so I guess I like him. I’d like him a lot better if he could work his way up and figure into our offense. Since it doesn’t seem like the ancient Steven Jackson will be gracing Patriots Nation with his presence, it’s up to James White and Brandon Bolden. Make us proud guys. To make me proud, it’s pretty easy- just don’t fumble the ball.
I like the Pats by around 17-ish points, give or take three either way. I’ll be pissed if this is a game with six minutes or less left in the game. I mean, come on guys. It’s Tennessee.