It Ends Tonight! Titans @ Patriots Divisional Open Thread

Don T

Don T

Poor choices, mixed results.
¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre!
Titans4Eva
Don T

2015 was Mariota’s rookie season and the Titans finished 3-13, being shredded by Johnny Manziel in the process. How times change; now Tennessee stands to be destroyed by Tom Brady on his ascension to Unparalleled Excellence. That’s forward progress even Jeff Tripplette can’t deny.

Last Saturday the Titans won its first playoff game since the 2003 season. New England has had a first round playoff bye for eight straight years, and been AFC Championship perennials ever since. The line for this game has been 13.5 and more. All predictions were sanctioned by The Sure Thing Coalition, in Chalk City. Patriot haters might wanna skip this game for more uplifting fare, like the first 100 minutes of “Midnight Express”.

Yeah yeah, I don’t buy it. Crazy shit happens in the playoffs. The Rex Jets and the Ravens defeated the Pats at home, memorably. The Titans defense has been consistently OK all year and has brought more pressure on QBs in the last five games. Everyone knows how Brady gets skittish when hit–an  obvious bone I gladly throw to the vast majority of NFL fans in the US:

Via @WTP sports

Being a Titans fan, I’ve had to watch their games. Tennessee was a boring team: seldom scoring in the 1st QRT;  dependable special teams (spectacular punting); a D that doesn’t allow many TDs after a turnover; and, the odd long run or pass mixed between plays for little or no gain—mostly out of bunched formations. TEN beat the Browns 12-9, in overtime, and did not record a convincing win in a schedule that featured crap team after crap team. Titan coaches started to get heavy flak for playcalling after the slog that was the 12-7 Week 14 loss at Arizona. And then it happened: Mariota got healthy and started getting the chance to dictate, calling plays and improvising. This defeated the Jags and clinched the playoffs for TEN in Week 17:

Via tenor.com

That play even prompted a pro like Delanie Walker to chime in: “Sometimes you gotta overcome coaching. That’s what makes some players great when they know how to do that” (via @CameronWolfe). On the other hand, I can’t see Patriot players overcoming their coaching, because they’d stand to be cut. Or flayed.

The only angles against the Pats are: (1) the TEN offensive line has been playing at the 2016 level the last three games; and (2) the tension between Kraft, Belichick, and Brady. Seth Wickersham’s recent KBB piece was a notable entry in the “Are the Patriots / Brady DUN?” canon. (It’s never “Belichick is done”.) So the Jimmy G trade seems like a vanity move for Brady’s sake that balances the Alex Guerrero skullduggery—big deal. All of that alleged crap is inconsequential for the Pats. Unless Brian Hoyer becomes involved, or Tom Terrific fails to get a “Patriot of the Week” T-shirt after posting a 100+ QB rating in this game.

The Titans had actual drama. Stories came out that Tennessee was going to fire Mike Mularkey if they lost to the Chefs right before the game. To the dismay of many Tits fans, their own team won in Kansas City. Goddammit: why even cheer? Pining for an uncertain but “better” future instead of enjoying present playoff success is greek tragedy shit. Like, I dunno… Being more concerned with potential…

/points dramatically to a dumpster

…HEAD COACHING GIGS?

That’s right: the New England brain trust of McDaniels & Patricia will showcase tonight their genius chops against a TEN team that, so far, is -21 in points differential after 17 games. (-66 between two blowouts: Deshaun Watson Texans in Week 4, Steelers in Week 11.) Both NE coordinators might outsmart themselves, since the stakes for them go beyond eking out a win in an expected walkover:

Via InsufferableMassholes (redundant)

Yes, the Pats have playoff experience, but Tennessee has been mentally tough all season. The players saved their coach through an 18-point comeback on the road. Dick LeBeau’s record against Brady isn’t good, but this current batch of TEN DBs are decent, including former Patriot Logan Ryan. (If it’s against The Man, it’s not snitching #JustSayin) And for all that is made about Brady being the experienced one, he’s the one who has tantrums during games, not the even-keeled Mariota (40 and 24, respectively). OK, Marcus won’t be a fantasy top dog, but is competitive and aware enough to catch his own TD pass and make an actual block—instead of, umm…

Via giphy.com

For New England, Schefter reported that questionable RBs Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead “are not expected to play”. Pencil them down for the majority of the carries over Lewis and White. (Kidding; maybe?) DeMarco Murray is out, the only way TEN coaches would deign to give Derrick Henry more than 10 touches a game. Accountability Note: after the Week 17 win over the Jags. Henry said he “ran soft”. He did, and then ran possessed the next week in Kansas City. Henry should do well against NE, provided he doesn’t miss the blitzer that gets Mariota KILLT. But even being optimistic, the Brady-Gronkowski battery is unstoppable. For tonight, I’d trade only two Gronk receptions for 60 yards in defensive PI, gladly.

Gotta admit: the “Ooh a win over Andy Reid; how cute!” and Patriots Patriots PATRIOTS talk got the best of me early in the week. So I called it Titans 30, Patriots 27, likely after reading “we should really rest [Chris] Hogan for next week”. I’m sticking to it, and to my rationalizations above—which may turn out to be kinda inaccurate after the fact. A cordial “‘Sup” for all decent Pats supporters, the ones here and the other 7 of you. But that’s it: No. 1 FACKIN GREATRIETS fan is Marky Mark, who deserves no good will. So enough of New England. It* ends tonight!

* The Patriots reign. Alternatively, the 2017 Titans season.

Now it’s your turn. DO YOUR WORST!

Banner pics via blewiskewl.blogspot.com and @MattNicroneRPO

Don T
Don T
Poor choices, mixed results. ¡Viva Puerto Rico Libre! Titans4Eva
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