A win Sunday over the Miami Dolphins would have meant a first-round bye in the AFC playoffs. Since the Patriots lost 27-24 to the Dolphins, they now have to play wild-card weekend against the Tennessee Titans.
The Patriots haven’t played in the wild-card round of the postseason since 2009.
Here’s how the Patriots and Titans match up:
Patriots Pass Offense Vs. Titans Pass Defense
Patriots ninth: 249.6 yards per game
Titans 24th: 259.2 yards per game
The Patriots have an 88.2 passer rating on the season, while the Titans have let up a 92 passer rating. Old friend Logan Ryan plays cornerback for the Titans and has had a strong season despite some other injuries at the position. Adoree’ Jackson hasn’t played since Week 13, and Malcolm Butler is on injured reserve.
The Titans are stout at the safety position with Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro.
The Patriots have had relative struggles moving the ball through the air this season, but the Titans’ injuries at cornerback could push this one in the Patriots’ favor. This matchup largely depends on the health of Patriots wideout Julian Edelman, who’s dealing with knee and shoulder ailments.
Patriots Run Offense Vs. Titans Run Defense
Patriots 19th: 104.5 yards per game
Titans 12th: 104.2 yards per game
The Patriots’ rushing attack has been better of late, but they’re still averaging less than 4 yards per carry. The Titans have let up 4 yards per carry on the season behind a front seven that includes Jurrell Casey, DaQuan Jones, Austin Johnson, Jeffrey Simmons, Harold Landry and Rashaan Evans.
We’re giving the edge to the Titans even if Sony Michel and Rex Burkhead seem to be playing their best football of the season for the Patriots.
Patriots Pass Defense Vs. Titans Pass Offense
Patriots second: 170.7 yards per game
Titans 22nd: 224 yards per game
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation since taking over for Marcus Mariota, and the Patriots’ pass defense has slowed down as competition has increased as the season progressed. But the Patriots still have the edge here.
They just have to hope they can regain some health at cornerback and that Stephon Gilmore can play better than he did in Week 17 against DeVante Parker when he let up over 100 yards for the first time this season.
Patriots Run Defense Vs. Titans Run Offense
Patriots sixth: 95.5 yards per game
Titans sixth: 131.9 yards per game
The Titans are averaging 4.9 yards per carry, while the Patriots are letting up 4.2 yards per carry.
The Patriots have been inconsistent in the run defense department this season, while the Titans have really turned it up on the ground since Week 9.
Titans running back Derrick Henry has gone for over 100 yards in five of his last six games. He has 15 touchdowns on the season.
Overall, this could be a difficult matchup for the Patriots. Former Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel is the Titans’ head coach and is quite familiar with Brady and New England’s offense. The Titans finished 9-7 on the season but dropped two of their last three before clinching a playoff berth in Week 17 against a Houston Texans team resting starters.
This is certainly a winnable game for the Patriots. But after New England lost in Week 17 to the 5-11 Dolphins, anything is on the table.
OVERALL EDGE: Patriots
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images