WEEK 12 · Sun 11/28 · 1:00 PM EST
New England Patriots
PATRIOTS: Game Release (PDF) | Roster | Depth Chart | Stats | How to Watch
TITANS: Roster | Depth Chart | Stats | Injury Report | Roster Flip-Card (PDF)
The AFC East-leading New England Patriots enter this week with a five-game winning streak, the longest streak in the NFL. The Patriots look to extend their streak to six straight wins when they host the Tennessee Titans, the team with the best record in the AFC at 8-3. This week’s game will be the first meeting between the Patriots and the Titans since the first round of the AFC playoffs on Jan. 4, 2020 when the Titans knocked the Patriots out of the postseason with a 20-13 victory.
Last week, the Patriots shutout the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football, 25-0. The Patriots have not achieved back-to-back shutout wins since 1982, with a 3-0 win vs. Miami on Dec. 12 followed by a 16-0 win at Seattle on Dec. 19.
The Patriots have won five in a row and take on a banged-up Titans team at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.
By Paul Perillo
When the Patriots run – Edge: Patriots
The Patriots will have their hands full dealing with the Titans tough and physical front. Tennessee ranks fourth in the league in run defense, allowing just 97.2 yards per game and seventh at 4.1 yards per play. Defensive end Jeffrey Simmons in particular is a beast, and along with nose tackle Teair Tart and Denico Autry the group has allowed linebackers Rashaan Evans, David Long, Jayon Brown and Monty Rice to make plays. Both Evans (ankle) and Long (hamstring) missed the Texans game and their status is unknown for this week, and Tart was carted off against Houston. Even with the absences, Tennessee’s run defense is formidable, but the Patriots physical brand of offense will be a much different test. Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson split the workload against Atlanta and that figures to continue this week. Both run with power and break tackles consistently. And with the offensive line continuing to gel expect Josh McDaniels to keep pounding the football. That physical approach has allowed the Patriots offense to rack up some impressive numbers on the ground and New England now ranks 14th in the league, averaging 116.3 yards per game. McDaniels has been content to run it early and often, even when the success is immediately apparent, and that approach has allowed the Patriots to control the line of scrimmage and wear down opponents.
When the Patriots pass – Edge: Patriots
Mac Jones and the Patriots passing game have been a bit sporadic this season. Two weeks ago it was outstanding in a 45-7 win over Cleveland that saw Jones toss three touchdowns. Last week in Atlanta was a different story as the Falcons were content to allow the short stuff and avoid the big plays. The Titans secondary has struggled this season, ranking 24th in passing yards allowed with 253.3 yards per game. However, the Titans allow only 6.6 yards per pass play, ranking 10th, which could bode well for the visitors as they try to limit Jones to the underneath stuff. The rookie continues to use all his weapons as he spreads it around among Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. In the red zone he’s gravitated toward Hunter Henry and the tight end leads the team with seven touchdowns. The Titans will try to contain that group with corners Kristian Fulton, Janoris Jenkins and Chris Jackson, although Jenkins missed the Texans game with a chest injury. Elijah Molden and Chris Jones also see time in the secondary with safeties Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker. The safety tandem is strong, especially Byard who leads the team with five picks. The key for the Patriots will be protecting Jones as Harold Landry (10 sacks) and Simmons (7.5) can apply the pressure. Assuming the protection holds up, the Patriots should make some plays.
When the Titans run – Edge: Patriots
The complexion of this matchup takes on an entirely different look with the absence on MVP candidate Derrick Henry. Henry’s foot injury has altered the Titans attack greatly as the team averages about 3.5 yards per rush in his absence. Tennessee has tried to replace Henry with a combination of D’Onta Foreman and veteran Adrian Peterson. Neither has enjoyed much success, and quarterback Ryan Tannehill is actually the team’s second leading rusher with 172 yards and five touchdowns on 32 carries. The Titans have a physical offensive line and the running game remains the team’s identity so the Patriots will have to continue their strong play in that regard. Led by rookie Christian Barmore up front, the Patriots now rank eighth in the league, allowing 101.7 yards per game on the ground and just 4.1 yards per carry. Bill Belichick will likely commit to stopping the run in an effort to make Tannehill beat them, and given Henry’s absence it’s not a stretch for that happen. Peterson flashed some of his old self in the loss to the Texans, picking up 40 yards on just nine carries, but it’s hard to imagine the 36-year-old being productive enough to control the game on the ground for the Titans.
When the Titans pass – Edge: Patriots
Everything the Titans do on offense has been predicated on Henry’s success. With him controlling the tempo and opposing defenses geared up to stop him, Tennessee likes to have Tannehill take his shots off play action and designed roll outs. The problem without Henry is there hasn’t been a running threat worthy of occupying the defense’s attention. That has led to turnover problems for Tannehill, who has 12 interceptions including four in the loss to the Texans. Tannehill is still a capable quarterback who has completed nearly 67 percent of his throws but without Henry he’s been forced to carry the load. He’s also been without his top wideouts at times as Julio Jones is currently on IR with a hamstring injury while A.J. Brown is dealing with a chest injury that knocked him out of the Houston game. If Brown can’t go Tannehill’s life will be even tougher as he tries to make do with Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, Chester Rogers, Marcus Johnson and Dez Fitzpatrick. Tight ends Anthony Firkser, MyCole Pruitt and Geoff Swaim, who is also injured, are a solid if unspectacular group. Overall this is a passing game the Patriots secondary should be able to maintain its solid play against. J.C. Jackson has been taking the ball away on a weekly basis, and given Tannehill’s recent struggles it would not surprising to see that continue.
Special Teams – Edge: Patriots
Nick Folk’s magical season continued against the Falcons as he delivered four more field goals including a season-long 54-yarder. He’s been the team’s most consistent player this season. The Titans counter with Randy Bullock, who has been solid in his own right. Bullock is 18 of 20 on field goals and 28 of 30 on PATs. Veteran Brett Kern does the punting for Tennessee and has a net average of 41.6 yards with 10 kicks downed inside the 20 and no touchbacks. Jake Bailey has been a little inconsistent this season but remains one of the best in the business. The punt return game has been on the uptick as of late for the Patriots with Gunner Olszewski back in the lineup after missing the Browns game with a concussion. He’s averaging a healthy 12.6 yards on 21 returns. Rogers isn’t bad in that department either, averaging over 10 yards per return for Tennessee. Neither side has mustered much on kickoff returns but the Patriots coverage units have been more consistent. Expect more of the same for the Patriots special teams.
The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) will square off in the regular season for the first time since a 34-10 loss at Tennessee on Nov. 11, 2018. The two teams last played against each other in the first round of the 2019 playoffs when Tennessee beat the Patriots 20-13 at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 4, 2020.
The teams have played 44 times in regular season and postseason play since the two charter members of the American Football League began play in 1960. The Patriots and Oilers played twice each year from 1960-1969 in the AFL and have played 24 times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. In those 24 post-merger games, the Patriots have a 15-9 record, including a 2-2 mark in playoff games.
New England leads the overall regular season and postseason series, 25-18-1. The Patriots are 18-7-1 in homes games against the Titans, including 5-1 at Gillette Stadium with the only loss coming in the 2019 playoff game.
The Patriots have won five straight games and will be looking for their sixth straight when we they host Tennessee on Sunday. The Patriots have 14 winning streaks of six or more games in a season since 2001, the most in the NFL.
TELEVISION: This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Charles Davis as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines. The game will be produced by Mark Wolff and directed by Bob Fishman.
NATIONAL RADIO: Sunday’s game will be broadcast to a national audience on Sports USA. Larry Kahn will call the with game with Doug Plank providing analysis.
LOCAL RADIO: 98.5 The Sports Hub is the flagship station for the Patriots Radio Network. A complete listing of the network’s 35 stations can be found here. Play-by-play broadcaster Bob Socci will call the action along with former Patriots quarterback Scott Zolak, who will provide color analysis. The games are produced by Marc Cappello.
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WEEK 12 · Sun 11/28 · 1:00 PM EST