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Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots Point Spread - Pick

Tennessee Titans (9-7 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) vs. New England Patriots (12-4 SU, 8-7-1 ATS)
AFC Wild Card Playoffs
Date/Time: Saturday, January 4, 2020 at 8:15PM EST
Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TEN +4.5/NE -4.5
Over/Under Total: 43.5

The Tennessee Titans take on the New England Patriots on Saturday in the Wild Card round of the AFC playoffs. For New England, they haven't been in the wild card round since 2009 and this is the cost of a bizarre week 17 loss to Miami, when a late Dolphins' TD snatched a victory from the Pats that would have allowed them to have this week off. The Titans had control of their destiny on Sunday and they did the most with it, thumping the Texans, 35-14. And while not many will fancy their chances against a 12-win Patriots' team, they stand out as a dangerous contender in what could be a wide-open AFC postseason.

That's just the thing with the Patriots—they're a 12-win team, a defending Super Bowl champion, and there seems to be something wrong. Going 4-4 since an 8-0 start, they have seen some troubling trends on both sides of the ball. And with a lot on the line on Sunday, for them to lose to the Dolphins at home is a pretty troubling development. At the same time, questioning the Patriots in the postseason has come at a cost before and even with there being some good cases to have been made before, they always seem to dial up the right answers.

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It's tough of what to make with Tom Brady, as the old guy has finished the season with a string of some very un-Brady-like performances. Overall, his season stats look normal enough—over 4000 yards passing, 24 TDs, and a completion percentage of over 60%. But over the last handful of weeks, there have been more clunkers than good games. And what he has around him has a lot to do with it. He has some useful backs in Sony Michel, along with Rex Burkhead and James White. It hasn't been as impactful as they may have hoped. And while the aerial game has depth, there aren't any difference-makers other than Julian Edelman. A look at their overall standing this season doesn't induce panic, perhaps, but it's one of the more-problematic offenses we've seen from a Patriots' postseason team in quite a number of years.

When the Pats were streaking out to an 8-0 record, the defense was in fine form. At the end of the day, the Patriots still ended up with the league's top-ranked offense, allowing a league-low 14.1 points a game. Over the last month, however, that number has sailed to 22 points a game and with their offense often in knots, it's not clear if that's going to be good enough. Still, there's a lot to like. The pass-rush comes from many different sources, led by John Simon, Jamie Collins, Dont'a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Adam Butler, and Chase Winovich. Between Collins, Devin McCourty, Stephon Gilmore, and JC Jackson, they have 19 interceptions and with 33 turnovers by this group, they helped the Pats secure a robust plus-18 turnovers margin.

The Titans are no joke, starting the season 2-4 and muscling their way into the playoffs with a strong running-game and a lot of physical play and heart. They made a midseason quarterback change that made a lot of people skeptical, but despite some bumpy passages, they emerged with a well-earned playoff-spot. But are they a team that is capable of unseating the mighty New England? At their best, they can be pretty dangerous, but this is a different realm and they're far from foolproof. But they could be catching New England at the right time with New England appearing to have waned on both sides of the ball after a bad second-half from Brady and a defense that has lost the electric touch it had earlier in the season. This would also be huge for head coach Mike Vrabel, who spent eight years playing on the Belichick-led Pats.

Going with Ryan Tannehill really pumped some life into the Tennessee offense. With over 70% completions and 22 TDs against 6 picks, and 4 more scores on the ground, he's been good. Really giving the Titans a boost is the work in the second half of the season by eventual 2019 rushing champion Derrick Henry. Despite missing the last game, he resurfaced on Sunday and helped get the big win with 211 yards on the ground and three touchdowns. AJ Brown was the leading receiver and closed the season strong, as well. They also have some depth with RB Dion Lewis, and aerial targets like Corey Davis, Jonnu Smith, Adam Humphries (questionable), and Tajae Sharpe.

It's not like the Titans' defense doesn't have a lot going for it. They have an active middle with Jayon Brown and Rashaan Evans. Logan Ryan has 4.5 sacks and 4 picks from the cornerback position. Kevin Byard was his typical disruptive self with five picks this season. They can get turnovers and rush the passer with some effectiveness. This defense has a lot of hitters on it. Alas, they are not terribly stout. While it helps them in this game that they can be good against the run, their secondary's playmaking hasn't been matched by its overall stoutness. And that's definitely something that could manifest badly in this difficult road playoff spot.

Could this be the right time to cash in against the Patriots? Or have their recent woes and low overall confidence made them an appealing value for once? It's not an easy equation. We have no real reason to question the Pats at this time of the season, but something does seem a little askew, as they certainly didn't peak heading into this spot. I still see Brady doing some good things against this Tennessee defense and I think we will see an appreciably better version of the Pats than what we saw to close the regular season. I'll lay the short number on the Pats.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the New England Patriots plus 4.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Tennessee vs. New England wild card playoff game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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