NFL Playoffs: All Eyes On Marcus Mariota vs New England Patriots

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft left quarterback Tom Brady center and head coach Bill Belichick

Patriots' Brady denies celebrating Garoppolo's trade to 49ers

So the Titans, who averaged 20.9 points, know they're going to have to keep up with New England on the scoreboard. The Titans won in impressive fashion when they overcame a 21-3 deficit at halftime and outscored the Chiefs 19-0 after the half.

Tom Brady will get back one of his favorite targets for the Patriots' divisional-round matchup with the Titans on Saturday night. The task will be tough for Tennessee.

It may not take a miracle, but a good game plan that eats clock and a heavy dose of Titans Running Backs along with a key Special Teams play could be enough. Will those distractions galvanize them or will they throw them off course? Subsequently, the Titans needed a Wild Card berth to make this year's playoff cut. It's on them to make sure he fails.

"We did beat them the first time, so to have all the confidence coming out of there is interesting", Jaguars DT Malik Jackson says. He called himself "soft" and he definitely atoned for the season finale versus the Kansas City Chiefs (23 carries, 156 yards and one touchdown).

Let's hold our horses here. The Titans have the youngest in 24-yearold Marcus Mariota.

Quarterbacks just don't do that these days, but the Titans' starter does.

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It's a major improvement for the 2016 43rd overall pick out of Penn State, who was inactive in six of the first nine games of his rookie season previous year.

The 2015 Heisman Trophy victor from the University of Alabama made up for that with an National Football League postseason debut for the record books, but getting the second-year pro to acknowledge any change in his own confidence - or simply being pleased after a big game - is as tough as tackling him in the open field. Against the Patriots, he is going to need to do the same. New England is fifth overall in points allowed (18.5 ppg), and they've done a great job stiffening up in the red zone. "It's always fun when you're playing football". Who knows? I might be totally wrong. There can not be any slipups this week versus the Patriots. "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". Well, the Titans need him to be on, and don't be surprised if he does something out of the ordinary. Keeping him in that mode would serve them well. Bates didn't take a defensive snap with Tennessee in 2017.

Many media and fans alike are wondering if the issues touched on in the ESPN story - some rooted in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade and others in the relationship between Belichick and Brady as it relates to the quarterback's controversial body coach/business partner, Alex Guerrero - could have any sort of adverse impact on the latest Super Bowl run for the defending champions. Thus, look for the Patriots to get Dion Lewis involved early and often come Saturday.

The veteran pass rusher did not have the season he wanted to this year, only getting seven sacks on the season. The Titans aren't winning this game on rushing alone. They have good specialists, they have a good core group of players, they're well-coached, they're sound. However, in this game, he needs to be not only solid on the field but solid in what information he can provide for his team.

That game - with Mark Sanchez outdueling Tom Brady - was brought up by both players this week as a reminder of how earning a first-round playoff bye means little if the team doesn't play well and capitalize on it. The Patriots have all the pressure on them.

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