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BOSTON (CBS) – The 98.5 The Sports Hub, WBZ-TV and WBZ NewsRadio Sports teams make their predictions for the Patriots season opener against the Tennessee Titans.
Scott Zolak, 98.5 The Sports Hub
The number-one key for the Patriots in this game is to take away what the Titans do best; run the football. Slow down Chris Johnson, or at least contain him, and make Jake Locker beat you in his first-ever start.
The Patriots also have to play without pressure. With such a young group on defense, they can’t go out and feel like they have to make every play.
This team is favored, and need to take the crowd out of the game early.
It’s Week 1, let’s not forget that someone is going to surprise them with something. Who do you like to surprise somebody with something? Brady, Belichick and New England, or Locker, Munchak and Tennessee.
Andy Gresh, 98.5 The Sports Hub
There are a couple keys to this game for the Patriots, but number-one is don’t lose you composure.
It’s tough to open on the road, especially with some new young players on this defense. If the Patriots do get down, they can’t lose their mind. And if the officials make a bad call – as we’re all expecting – they, again, can’t lose their mind.
I think it’s important for the Pats to get on the board early. They’re doing a “code blue” down there where everyone dresses in blue and gets jacked up. An early seven-point lead would take the crowd out of it and let the Patriots settle in.
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV
I think this will be an interesting opening week test for the Patriots. Nashville isn’t an easy place to play if the crowd gets going and the Titans look like they can be a playoff contender if they stay healthy.
The Pats defense can’t be any worse than they were, at times, during the 2011 regular season. Chandler Jones and Donta’ Hightower should boost the defense. The Pats also get a break in that Kenny Britt misses this one due to a suspension. They will have their hands full with Chris Johnson, who seems to be on a mission for a bounce-back season. Brandon Spikes and Patrick Chung once again become important when it comes to stopping him. Jake Locker will have his hands full trying to figure out Matt Patricia/Bill Belichick disguised defenses. The Pats must take advantage of any Locker mistakes.
On offense, we get to see what should be a great arsenal of weapons. It starts with Gronk… then on to Welker, Hernandez, plus newcomer Brandon Lloyd, who should be much, much better than Ochocinco. Brady has a right to be concerned about his O-line with no Matt Light and Brian Waters, but there should be enough depth to keep him upright.
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV
So week one is finally here and believe it or not, I am nervous. I get this way before the start every NFL season.
In the Tom Brady era, the Pats have only lost one opening season game and that was the Lawyer Milloy game against the Buffalo Bills. I will get it out-of-the-way here — I expect the Pats to beat the Titans on Sunday. But I don’t think this game is very cut and dry.
I feel the Pats young defense will have a tough time stopping the run, mainly because this is the first game for them on the big stage. Communication on the road is the hardest thing and that is the number one component when it comes to stopping the run.
Everybody tends to think that Tennessee running back Chris Johnson is some slouch; well the young man can still carry the mail. I just feel once the Pats finally shut him down, the game rests in the hands on Tennessee quarterback Jake Locker. I don’t think he can beat the Pats.
Tom Brady and the offense will get off to a slow start but the fire power will be too much for Tennessee, and Stevan Ridley should have a banner game. Also, rookie Chandler Jones has gotten the headlines this preseason and that will continue in Week 1, but let’s add some other names to the mix. I feel at the end of the day people will be singing the praises of Donta’ Hightower and Brandon Spikes nationally. The young linebackers will step to the forefront.
Pats win 31-20
Walt Perkins, WBZ NewsRadio 1030
Patriots Tight End, Rob Gronkowski, says he’s nervous. That is, perhaps, the general consensus when it comes to the first game of the season. Not just here in New England but league-wide. That’s because teams do not have a lot of film of their opponent. It’s difficult to leave no stone un-turned when you don’t know where all the stones are.
That being said, there is much faith in Bill Belichick and his staff to find the weak spots in the Titans’ game on both sides of the ball. Heading into training camp, the popular train of thought regarding the Patriots was great offense, suspect defense. The play of the offensive line dampened that enthusiasm a tad but the O line is the one unit that needs consistency to be efficient. That just isn’t going to happen in the pre-season when the staff is trying to evaluate everyone.
The defense may be a work in progress but it is a young work in progress with a lot of energy and that might counter some of the mistakes that will result from its inexperience. If the offense can get off to a fast start and force the Titans into a one-dimensional game through the air, all the better.
Prediction: Patriots 37 Titans 17