Patriots Very Early Favorites for Week 1 Matchup Against Titans

Patriots Very Early Favorites for Week 1 Matchup Against TitansThe start of the NFL’s 2012 regular season is starting to come into focus even though Week 1 is still four months away.

But that’s not to say we can’t analyze every New England opponent and project a line for each game. Obviously, these will just be projections because injuries will happen and teams can be dramatically better or worse than expected once the first kickoff arrives.

With that said, the Patriots open at the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, Sept. 9, to kick off their 2012 season and New England projects as a 7-point favorite. New England will be around -350 on the moneyline with the total at approximately 47.

Tennessee and New England didn’t play last year. The Titans finished just out of the playoffs at 9-7 and second to the Houston Texans in the AFC South in Coach Mike Munchak’s first season.  They were solid at home in 2011, going 5-3 and beating playoff teams in the Baltimore Ravens and Denver Broncos in Nashville.

The Titans were heavily recruiting free agent and former University of Tennessee star Peyton Manning this offseason to be their starting QB, but of course, he chose the Broncos. So that means the Titans will go into the 2012 season with either veteran Matt Hasselbeck or second-year player and 2011 first-round pick Jake Locker as the starter. Hasselbeck, who would have been released if the Titans signed Manning, got the vast majority of snaps a season ago, throwing for 3,571 yards, 18 TDs and 14 interceptions. In backup duty, Locker was 34-for-46 for 542 yards and four TDs.  

Tennessee has one of the NFL’s best running backs in Chris Johnson, but he struggled for most of 2011 and finished with just 1,047 yards and four TDs as Tennessee ranked No. 31 in rushing offense. That offense badly missed No. 1 WR Kenny Britt, who was lost for the season after three games. To bolster that receiving corps, Tennessee took Baylor’s Kendall Wright with its first-round pick in this year’s draft. Also, the Titans signed one of the best free agent offensive linemen on the market in Steve Hutchinson.

Their defense ranked No. 18 in yards allowed last season (355.1 ypg) and No. 8 in average points allowed (19.8). The Titans lost their top cornerback, Cortland Finnegan, to free agency. But they added former Raiders defensive end Kamerion Wimbley to bolster a unit that was second-to-last in sacks a year ago with 24.

The last time the Titans and Patriots met was in Week 6 of the 2009 season and Pats fans likely will remember that home game well. New England won 59-0 as Tom Brady threw six touchdown passes, including five in one quarter, an NFL mark.

Brady threw those five scoring passes in the second quarter and the Patriots built the biggest halftime lead in league history, 45-0. The six touchdown throws tied Brady's own Patriots record and made him just the fifth quarterback since 1960 to have thrown six touchdowns in a game twice.

The 59-point margin matched the largest since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the Los Angeles Rams' 59-0 win over the Atlanta Falcons in 1976. The Patriots gained a club-record 619 yards, with Brady completing 29 of 34 passes for 380 yards. The Titans were held to 186 total yards as Kerry Collins completed just 2-of-12 passes for -7 yards.

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