FOXBOROUGH - For the first time in over a decade, New England Patriots fans will be invested in what happens during Wild Card Weekend for the NFL playoffs. In the final game of the season during week seventeen, all the Patriots had to do was defeat the abysmal Miami Dolphins at home to secure a first-round BYE in the 2020 post-season. Instead, the Dolphins upset the Patriots by a score of 27-24. With the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Los Angeles Chargers, that left the Patriots with the number three seed in the playoffs.
This means that, at the very least, the Patriots will have just one home game in the post-season and it’s coming this Saturday. In the playoff bracket draw, the Patriots ended up with a matchup against the 9-7 Tennessee Titans wild card team. The game will take place at 8:15 on January 4 at Gillette Stadium. And I don’t think it’s such a guaranteed win for the Patriots.
The mood was somewhat somber across press conferences for the team as both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick seemed dejected after the Miami loss. But linebacker Kyle Van Noy said that he’s ready for his team to begin a “revenge tour” against the AFC teams that defeated them during the regular season. Before we can even begin to think about the Chiefs or the Baltimore Ravens, though, we have to focus on the Titans.
In the effort to repeat, the Patriots will have to down the hottest team in the entire league. The Titans, under head coach Mike Vrabel, a former New England linebacker, have been seemingly unstoppable since Ryan Tannehill took over at quarterback. With a strong rapport established between Tannehill and rookie wideout A.J. Brown, the Titans would be scary enough. But Derrick Henry has ran gangbusters across the NFL this year, en route to a rushing title secured in week seventeen.
There is a complete recipe here for the Patriots to fall to the Titans. A red-hot team that has the weapons to expose Stephon Gilmore? A defensively-minded coach who can shut down the limited Patriots passing attack? It’s all here.
But far be it from me to predict against Brady and Belichick in the playoffs. I don’t see them losing this game. I really don’t. I just don’t think they would allow it. There’s too much intelligence and too much experience here to actually feel like this game could be lost. I expect the Titans to put up a fight, but I am officially going to predict a victory for the Patriots. The dynasty is not over yet!
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