BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots are playing on Wild Card weekend for the first time since 2009, with a Saturday night clash with the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium.
This isn’t normal. The Patriots don’t — and shouldn’t — be playing on Wild Card weekend. But they have no one to blame but themselves after last weekend’s debacle against the Dolphins, and that should fuel them this weekend.
New England’s first playoff game is usually referred to as a “tomato can,” a glorified bye week before they inevitably host the AFC Championship game. That’s not the case this season. There’s a whole lot of doom and gloom around the 12-4 Patriots, and many think the Titans have a real good shot to come into Foxboro and end the New England dynasty.
The WBZ-TV and CBS Boston sports team isn’t so sure about that. Here are our predictions for Saturday night’s Wild Card tilt at Gillette:
Steve Burton, WBZ-TV Sports
Ironically, the Miami loss may be just the wakeup call that the Patriots needed to light a fire in the playoffs.
Tom Brady looked like he was a man on a mission this week, and the players in the locker room saw just how laser focused Brady was all week. Every team is banged up at the moment and Julian Edelman is hurting more than ever. But Edelman knows what’s at stake and he says he’s ready to roll.
The Titans are a dangerous football team, but quarterback Ryan Tannehill has never won at Gillette, touting an 0-6 record. The Patriots defense knows after last week’s loss that it’s time to bring their “A” game.
Patriots 28, Titans 17
Dan Roche, WBZ-TV Sports
I know there are a lot of problems that the Titans present to the Patriots. A red hot quarterback in Ryan Tannehill. A tough, pounding runner in Derrick Henry. An explosive receiver in AJ Brown.
I just think this Patriots team will be ticked off and on a mission, especially on defense after last week’s embarrassing loss.
Patriots 28, Titans 13
Levan Reid, WBZ-TV Sports
I honestly have no idea what Patriots team is going to take the field on Saturday night. I’m hoping we see the Patriots team that took on the Bills a couple of weeks ago. That team was ready to make a playoff run.
Gillette will be full of emotion. It’s a playoff game and for the first time in 10 years, the Pats need to win in the Wild Card round. The feeling is they will get it done. Not because they have more people that have played on this big stage, but mainly because they have more players and coaches that understand how to prepare for this.
Also, with the possibility of this being Tom Brady’s last home game at Gillette, there’s no chance the Pats lose. I think they’ll win and Brady will get a 12-minute standing ovation.
Patriots 27, Titans 20
Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
The Titans could certainly win. The Titans just might do it. That wouldn’t be a stunner.
But picking Tennessee to definitely win this game would be an overreaction to one single game. Over the course of the season, the Patriots went 12-4. The Titans went 9-7. For as much as Week 17’s flop vs. Miami was a painful one for New England, the Titans also lost at home to Houston in Week 15 and then blew a 14-0 lead at home vs. New Orleans in Week 16. It was an equal no-show in some must-win games.
So for the time being, I’ll stick with the Brady/Belichick duo, which combined has 82 games of playoff experience… compared to the zero games of experience between Mike Vrabel and Ryan Tannehill.
Patriots 20, Titans 16
Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
Does this Patriots team have enough to win another Super Bowl? Probably not, especially without the luxury of a first-round bye. But do they have enough to beat the Titans this weekend? They should.
The Tennessee offense has a lot of weapons, and Derrick Henry can run over or past anyone in the NFL. But the New England defense has to be pretty miffed after their lackluster effort against the Dolphins, and if they can’t use that as motivation against the Titans, they were never as good as we thought they were.
There has been reason to feel a little better about the Patriots offense over the last month, and I think they’ll do enough to get the W this weekend. It won’t be pretty and it will likely be another rock fight until the end, but the Patriots will move on to another giant showdown with the Chiefs in Kansas City.
Patriots 24, Titans 20
Tune in to Saturday’s Patriots-Titans Wild Card showdown on WBZ-TV — the flagship station of the New England Patriots. Pregame coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Patriots GameDay, kickoff is set for 8:15 p.m., and after the game stay tuned for full reaction and analysis on Patriots 5th Quarter!