Editor’s note: NESN.com’s Mike Cole, Ricky Doyle and Andre Khatchaturian deliver their NFL picks every Thursday of the season, and here’s who they like in the Tennessee Titans-New England Patriots AFC divisional-round game, with the line from OddsShark.
Tennessee Titans at (-13.5) New England Patriots, Saturday, 8:15 p.m.
Obviously a pick I could regret as early as halftime, but I think the Titans can run the ball just well enough to slow down the pace of the game and keep the Patriots’ offensive snaps limited. Marcus Mariota played one of the best games of his young career in Kansas City last week, and the Patriots have had some issues with mobile quarterbacks at times this season. I don’t know. Maybe the Patriots have completely solved all their defensive issues, but I think a play here or there will be just enough to keep it within the number.
Classic divisional-round ass-whopping by the Patriots. Marcus Mariota sucked for most of the season, but he was especially bad on the road (five touchdowns to 11 interceptions; 69.1 QB rating in seven games), which shouldn’t be overlooked despite his performance last week in Kansas City. The Patriots, meanwhile, have been taking care of business at home, allowing just 11.8 points per game in their last five contests at Gillette Stadium. Remember Travis Kelce’s hot start against the Titans last week (four catches on four targets for 66 yards and a touchdown) before leaving in the second quarter with a concussion? Extrapolate that over a full 60 minutes and you’re looking at a huge game from Rob Gronkowski, the only tight end better than Kelce.
Since Week 10, the Patriots have the best yards-per-play differential in football. On the contrary, the Titans haven’t had a turnover-free game since Week 3 and have a minus-six turnover differential. Expect Gronkowski and the Patriots’ running backs to have huge games. The Titans have allowed 853 passing yards to tight ends this season (second-most among playoff teams) and 967 receiving yards to running backs (most in the NFL).