The team and their fans will also be hoping their defense plays as well as it did against the Tennessee Titans
Against the Titans, the Patriots did something they haven’t done in their storied history, which was sacking the opposing quarterback eight times.
The Patriots were so dominant on defense that it seemed like every time Marcus Mariota dropped back to pass the ball, there was a defender in his face.
Rookie defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr. and Geneo Grissom tied the franchise record with two sacks each, while Marquis Flowers, Ricky Jean Francois, Adam Butler and Trey Flowers each recorded sacks.
The pressure that the defensive players put on the Titans offensive line helped to force the Titans into 12 third-down situations in which the team needed at least seven yards to convert the first down.
After the game, Trey Flowers gave a detailed breakdown of why they were so successful getting to the quarterback.
Flowers said the key to their success was they were able to get a lot of penetration on early downs, which allowed them to stuff the run. The Patriots were so successful against the run that they held the Titans to 65 total rushing yards.
Derrick Henry, who had 156 yards and one touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs
in the Wildcard Round of the playoffs, finished the game with 28 yards on 12 carries. Mariota actually outgained his running back and finished with 37 yards for the game.
With the team unable to run the ball effectively, the defense was able to load up and come after the quarterback on nearly every play because the Titans found themselves in third and long situations for most of the game.
Things got much easier for the defense thanks to Tom Brady
and the offense, who had no trouble moving the chains and scoring on the Titans.
At halftime, the Patriots had a 21-7 lead, and the Titans quickly gave up on the running game in the second half, making them one dimensional and predictable, which the defense was able to capitalize on.
Flowers said the defensive players fed off the emotion of their teammates as well as the fans, using the momentum to continue going after Mariota.
With the Patriots defense having their way with Tennessee’s offense, Bill Belichick and his players are hoping the success continues when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars
in the AFC Championship Game.
Since Blake Bortles is capable of imploding when under pressure, look for the Patriots to go after running back Leonard Fournette early in the game.
With Fournette dealing with an ankle injury that forced him to temporarily leave the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers
, the Patriots are hoping he isn’t 100 percent this week, which should make it easier for them to shut him down.
If they can force the Jaguars to give up on their running game like they did against Tennessee, expect them to go after Bortles and force him in to making costly mistakes that will help the Patriots get the win.
Wild Card Playoffs