AFC Divisional Round: New England and Pittsburgh are Heavy Favorites

Annette Crawford
January 13, 2018

To the average football fan, playing against Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots is kind of a big deal in the NFL playoffs. The Titans have covered just 12 times in their last 37 games against the rest of the AFC. 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. "They won it all past year and have been there plenty of times", Johnson said in a phone interview Thursday.

Saturday's game kicks off at 8:15 p.m.

Johnson, a 2012 St. Augustine Prep graduate, is set to start at defensive tackle for the Titans.

So be prepared to see a focused New England team this postseason with a great chance to be the first repeat Super Bowl champs since - who else? - the 2003-04 Patriots. The Titans weren't very good all season, but they have a strong offensive line, a workhorse running back and a young quarterback with all the pedigree and intangibles of a potential star.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota was the beneficiary of a couple of dubious calls last week but did make some spectacular plays, nearly reminding one that he won the Heisman Trophy with the Oregon Ducks, but he has been even more inconsistent than Henry during his three-year professional career. Kevin Byard and the Titans defense will need to slow him down to keep their season alive. New England's week off was spent dealing with a piece written by ESPN's Seth Wickersham, basically saying that there is a monster power struggle between Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady as they decide who should get the most credit for this current dynasty.

Mariota, who battled a nagging hamstring injury much of the season, says he is the healthiest he's been. "It's the same stuff, different day".

Harrison, 39, will be playing in his third game with New England and he looked pretty productive in the first two games, finishing with two sacks against the Jets in the season finale. Defensively, the team made the necessary adjustments to stop the Chiefs especially after Travis Kelce left with an injury.

"(This season) has flown by. But Murray has yet to practice, and Mularkey says the veteran running back is close enough to play next week. "We show up to work and try to do the best we can". Tomlin's Pittsburgh Steelers will play at home, along with Belichick's Patriots, but Payton has to take the New Orleans Saints north to face the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium - the site of Super Bowl LII.

BELICHICK and LEBEAU: There aren't too many current National Football League coaches that have been around the game longer than Belichick and Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Brady said he is not letting negative coverage surrounding the team be a distraction. You never know when Belichick, being the mage that he is, will strike. "We'll bring him back in the building (Saturday) and continue with his game readiness". I really wouldn't know anything. "We're hopeful to get that accomplished".

Regardless, NFL playoff games generally come down to the quarterback play, and the discrepancy between the haves and have-nots in each of the four divisional games is stark - and likely the reason the teams considered the "haves" will advance to the championship round. He weighs more than both the Patriots starting inside linebackers, Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts, and weighs almost as much as Eric Lee and Trey Flowers, whom the Patriots list as their starting defensive ends. An angry Brady is generally a good Brady and the Titans may feel his wrath on Saturday.

Because this is just me.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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