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Old school Bill Belichick facing older school Dick LeBeau

13 Janvier 2018

The Patriots have played in six successive AFC championship games, and it will be a tough task for the Tennessee Titans to prevent New England from reaching a seventh. Tennessee (10-7), who have not won in New England since 1993, advanced to Saturday's game with a 22-21 wildcard victory over the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.

As for New England, the last time it missed the playoffs was 2008, when Tom Brady was knocked out in Week 1 with a torn ACL.

"When it comes down to it, it's all about us", Mariota said. "At this point, I'm all in on Tennessee". His size and movement should see him feast on the soft centre of the Titans defense.

That came after he called Tennessee "an impressive football team" and shortly before declaring, "We know we need to have our best game Saturday night".

Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, left, and coach Bill Belichick convene during a workout Tuesday, Jan. 9, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

The Titans defense did yeoman's work (especially after the Chiefs lost tight end Travis Kelce) and will no doubt have to again with a much bigger challenge ahead in Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots' offense. The Titans are one of the league's worst teams at defending tight ends (24th in DVOA) and running backs (32nd) in the passing game, and the Patriots just so happen to employ an All-Pro tight end in Rob Gronkowski and three risky pass-catching backs in Burkhead, White and Dion Lewis. "He's always preparing hard". The time off figures to be helpful for them to get back into the lineup and game plan.

"The feeling around here, the intensity is high, the preparation is high just like any other time", Gronkowski observed. So, as close as we are, that's not going to change, and he's going to compete and be the same way. For New England it's just a matter of making this game a battle between two quarterbacks. "It just so happened that I played there, but it's really just the next team in front of us". He covers the Detriot Lions and the New England Patriots.

"You feel it as soon as you start practicing". If the Pats do that, they'll win by multiple scores. "Once we walk on that field Saturday, we won't know who the hell is on the other side of the field". I think there is a reality of playing in these games - you need to go out and you need to earn it. This is a different Titans defense than that one, of course, and it will fight. "You're out there, you're in the position to succeed". "Now we're in it". No one is going to hand it to us. And in this game, Ryan's experience and talent level will be too much for Foles and the Eagles to overcome. That's a huge challenge. "At the end of the day, it's not about old guys are going to win or young guys are going to win, the home team, the road team".

"They're obviously a good team". Mariota, although he didn't have as good a season this year as he did in 2016, is a better quarterback now.

Tennessee's defense isn't one of the elite squads in the NFL, but they have been in the top half of the league for the majority of the season. That is the only way the Titans can win this game: run the football, limit Mariota's opportunities for mistakes and take a few shots down the field to Corey Davis. They have a great football team. I'd be selling them hopes and dreams. "In fact he's probably closing in on the best ever", LeBeau said. They're well-coached. They're a solid team. He struggled in the lone game he played after suffering the injury against the Miami Dolphins on December 11 and was subsequently shut down for the remainder of the regular season. They won the Super Bowl in the year of Brady's deflategate suspension and in the year of the spygate scandal.

Old school Bill Belichick facing older school Dick LeBeau