2018 NFL Divisional Round Expert Analysis: Patriots vs Titans

The second game of the 2018 Divisional Round playoff games on Saturday is between the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots, who will begin their Super Bowl title defense.


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New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans Predictions

  • When: January 13, 2018, 8:15 PM ET
  • Where: Gillette Stadium
  • Spread: Patriots -13.5
  • Total: 48.5
  • Moneyline: Patriots -1000 vs Titans +700

Tennessee Titans Analysis

The Titans advanced to the Divisional Round by defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs.

The Titans managed to come back from a 21-3 halftime deficit to win what was one of the most exciting games of the weekend.

Tennessee’s defense came alive in the second half and made life miserable for Alex Smith, who threw for 231 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Titans held Smith to 31 yards and zero touchdowns in the second half.

The Titans also did a great job running the ball, thanks to Derrick Henry, who ran for 156 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries.

Henry will need to carry the burden of pushing the ground attack for the third consecutive time. As it stands, Henry has a good shot at being successful in running the ball; the Patriots run defense gives up 4.7 yards per carry, which is the second-worst in the NFL.

If Henry can find the holes in the Patriots’ front seven, he can do enough damage that might lead to a Titans win. Opponent’s success on the ground has been the Achilles heel of the Patriots that led to New England’s three home playoff losses under Belichick.

Marcus Mariota also ran for 48 yards to give the Titans 200 rushing yards for the day.

Mariota also did a great job throwing the ball, especially in the second half. He finished the game with 205 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception.

If they are to defeat the Patriots, they will need their defense to play like it did in the second half of the Chiefs game, and Derrick Henry to have another big game carrying the ball. The good news is they are expected to have DeMarco Murray back for this game.

Key Titans Betting Trends

  • Tennessee is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
  • Tennessee is 8-4 SU in its last 12 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Tennessee's last 7 games

New England Patriots Analysis

The Patriots will kick off their title defense with a very favorable matchup because the Titans win helped them avoid another game against the Chiefs, who manhandled them at home on opening night.

The Patriots will also be going into this game with a chip on their shoulder after an ESPN report claimed there was a power struggle behind the scenes involving Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. The Patriots, who are used to using stuff like that for motivation, will be ready for the Titans.

Tom Brady had an MVP type season again this year but seemed to hit a bit of a roadblock towards the end of the season, throwing too many interceptions in their last few games. They will need him to do a better job protecting the ball so they can avoid being upset by the Titans.

There are some who argue that because of Brady’s age, he’ll be liable to commit more errors in this game. But, even if Brady is taking more hits and missing more throws, he’s still at the top of his game as the league’s top passer, with 4,577 yards and 32 touchdowns to his name.

Brady, however, will need his running game to be successful to help him keep the Titans defense honest. If the team runs the ball successfully, Brady will be able to methodically pick Tennessee’s defense apart.

Don’t be surprised to see Brady throwing a few touchdown passes since the Titans aren’t particularly good at stopping the pass and allowed 27 touchdown passes during the regular season.

New England’s defense will also need to step things up, especially against the run after Henry’s big game last week.

If they can slow down the run, they can force Mariota to try and beat them with his arm, which will be difficult to do with the amount of pass rush he will be facing.

New England’s defense has allowed just 11.8 points per game in their last five home games, so it wouldn’t be surprising that they manage to shut down Mariota.

The Titans offense struggles on the road; in fact, it’s just averaging 18 points per game on the road with Mariota throwing 12 picks and only seven touchdown passes while playing away from home.

James Harrison, who had two sacks in his debut for the Patriots in week 17, is expected to have an impact on defense on Saturday.

The Patriots have won six home playoff games in a row, covering the spread on five occasions, winning by an average of 17.8 points.

That New England wins at home is nothing new, but it’s something that has to give ATS bettors a clue of where to lay their money.

In case this doesn’t convince you, the Patriots have also won the last six games against the Titans by an average of 20.8 points. And, Tennessee is just 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a double-digit dog.

Key Patriots Betting Trends

  • New England is 9-1 ATS in its last 10 games
  • New England is 11-1 SU in its last 12 games
  • The total has gone UNDER in 4 of New England's last 5 games

Pick and Prediction: The Patriots are favored to win this game by 13.5 points. The over/under on total points scored is 48. The Patriots will have their hands full with the Titans, but they will be able to get the win in a close game. Take Tennessee +13.5.

 
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