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Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Tennessee Titans (10-7 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (13-3 SU, 11-5 ATS)
AFC Divisional Playoff
Date/Time: Saturday, January 13, 2018 at 8:15PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TEN +13/NE -13
Over/Under Total: 47

The Tennessee Titans come to Gillette Stadium on Saturday to face the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff game from Foxborough. Tennessee was able to overcome a deficit on the road against the Chiefs on Saturday in the Wild Card, posting a comeback 22-21 road win to get to this spot. The Patriots, the top-seed in the AFC, was off last week after a 13-3 season where the defending Super Bowl Champions won 11 of their last 12 regular season games. They remain a favorite to repeat this season and the Titans will be facing a very tough road playoff test this week.

It was a big boost for the Titans to win a playoff game last Saturday, their first win in the postseason since following the 2003 season. We can nit-pick on how they got here, but the fact that they're here speaks loudest. And it wasn't an easy voyage to this spot, a series of rough seasons, with an upswing that began last season and is now culminating. There is something about them that surpasses expectations quite a bit. On one hand, we see an offense that is a bottom-half group with a "D" that has been exploitable, as they are ranked 25th against the pass this season. A stretch of losses late in the season threatened to derail their efforts after a good start. But at the end of the day, they were able to score a postseason upset against the Chiefs on the road, showing a lot of gumption and character in the process.

On Saturday, the Titans were able to overcome a 21-3 deficit to eventually nip the Chiefs at the wire, when QB Marcus Mariota threw his second TD of the game to Eric Decker. The other TD Mariota threw was caught by him. On a crazy play near the goal-line against Kansas City, a deflected Mariota caught a deflected pass and scooted into the end zone for a memorable third-quarter play. Without DeMarco Murray, Derrick Henry took over bulk of the running duties and he was tremendous on 156 yards and a TD, while adding 35 receiving yards. Tight end Delanie Walker had 74 yards, while WR Corey Davis caught four passes. Against the Chiefs, it was just enough. They'll likely need a lot more this week.

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Early against the Chiefs, the Titans didn't look like they were going to be able to come up with the right answers on defense. But they were able to switch form on a dime and before long, we saw the things that make this defense so dangerous starting to manifest. The pass-rush really came alive, with an unpredictable 4-man rush making it hard for the Chiefs to pick up their blocks. That kind of deceptive play could pay off this week. It was a big part of what enabled the Titans to hold Kansas City scoreless in the entire second half of play last week. Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo, and Wesley Woodyard all got to Alex Smith. And while their pass-defense has been dicey, it makes up for it with a lot of playmaking, with Kevin Byard leading the league in picks this season with 8, while Adoree Jackson and Jonathan Cyprien add a lot of big plays. Can they, however, provide the kind of coverage that can prevent a full aerial-assault from Tom Brady and Company? At times this season and in key moments in some games, it's been a part of the team that can let them down.

This is familiar territory for the Pats, as they watched the Wild Card get hashed out awaiting their first playoff opponent at home. The defending champions have really poured it on this season. After some worrisome setbacks in the first month, the Patriots addressed their issues, solved them swiftly, and haven't looked back yet. The offense added a lot of variety over the course of the season. The defense really whipped their act together after some rocky passages. After getting torched early, they have allowed an average of less than 14 points a game over the past 12 weeks!

The New England offense is ranked first in yardage and second in points scored. Led by erstwhile Tom Brady, they were potent aerially, with Brady putting up over 4500 yards. But the growth of their run-game has really given this offense extra teeth. Dion Lewis has put up some nice performances of late, with Mike Gillislee (questionable), Rex Burkhead, and James White filling out a diverse run-game that can also do damage aerially. Through the air, Brady works with a pair of 1000-yard ball-catchers in receiver Brandin Cooks and dynamic tight end Rob Gronkowski. Throw in all those ball-catching backs, Danny Amendola, and Chris Hogan (questionable), there are a lot of weapons which Brady can utilize in this offense. Making it come together is a tough line that can really get it done.

The New England defense is a bit of a strange study. It's just a little odd that they have been so tough over the last three-quarters of the season while finishing the year ranked 30th in pass-defense and 20th in run-defense. They were rarely as bad as those numbers indicate over the last 3+ months. The secondary, with Stephon Gilmore, Duron Harmon, Devin McCourty, Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, and others, has really come around over the course of the season. They apply a strong pass-rush, but have allowed a fat 4.7 yards per rush this season. They are exceedingly-clutch, as they can be exploited some, but tighten up when needed most. This is a defense that has thrived against a lot better offenses than Tennessee this season.

Overlooking Tennessee proved to be really costly last week against Kansas City. A case was easy to make that they were a step below the real contenders in the conference. It's time to perhaps awaken to the reality that the Titans surpass what the stats and rankings indicate. This is a tough spot, as their opponent and even the cold conditions might be too much for the Titans. At their best, however, they can extract a lot out of what they have on both sides of the ball. And offensively, there are some things that Tennessee can do that could trouble the Pats. They run the heck out of the ball, even more so if DeMarco Murray returns in time for this. This is a tough one and it's certainly not hard to picture New England having way too much firepower for Tennessee. But I see the Titans putting up some early resistance and keeping this one semi-respectable. I'll take the points.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 13 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Tennessee vs. New England playoff game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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