X-factors for Patriots against Titans

X-factors for Patriots against Titans

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FOXBOROUGH, Mass.

Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots huddles with teammates during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium on December 20, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Brady will try to lead his team to its seventh straight conference title game Saturday when it hosts the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round. After missing four straight games, he returned to action in a December 11 loss to the, but struggled as both a pass catcher (one reception on five targets) and blocker.

That shouldn't bother Mike Mularkey's team.

Brady said he is not letting negative coverage surrounding the team be a distraction.

In a joint statement last week, all three men brushed aside any insinuation of strife at the top of one of the NFL's jewel franchises.

Jeff Bridges and Tom Brady appear in a footwear commercial.

"We did beat them the first time, so to have all the confidence coming out of there is interesting", Jaguars DT Malik Jackson says.

Murray was diagnosed with a Grade 3 tear of the MCL in his right knee two weeks ago and hasn't played or practiced since suffering what Mularkey called a "pretty good" knee injury at the end of the Titans' loss to the Los Angeles Rams on December 24. "It doesn't really matter what happened outside of this facility and what we're trying to accomplish", he said.

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Patriots receiver Danny Amendola hasn't noticed any change in Brady. It's a big task to go out and win a playoff game and play against a good team, divisional round.

Tennessee recognizes the challenge it faces against Brady. They allowed less than 23 points-per-game in the regular season and were able to do a great job against the rush and the pass, but facing off with the Patriots is a much different task than anything they've come up against so far.

But life with the Patriots and Belichick is such that we know how this one ends already. That game had previously been the widest age gap between starting quarterbacks (15 years, 166 days) in a playoff game, as DeBerg was 37 years old that year. I know the fans will be into it. "He's one of the guys I remember texting, saying, 'I can't wait to work with you and learn from you'".

Jones said he practices each week as though his role will go beyond special teams. "I'm not really looking at it like that". The 26-year-old quietly has 13 regular-season and playoff picks in five years. "Marcus (Mariota) watches more film than anybody in the building".

"Branch, 6'6" 325lbs, is a run-stuffer, and New England will benefit greatly from his return.

"He's going to make plays", said center Maurkice Pouncey.

He is just another one that you have to be aware of where he's at. James Harrison played under Dick LeBeau, the Titans defensive coordinator, who spent more than a decade coaching Harrison and the Steelers.

The Patriots give up some yards on defense - New England is ranked 29th in the National Football League in total defense, allowing 366.0 yards per game. The over/under for this game is also the highest on the board this week at 48.

When I started this column, my wife Sharon quickly said, "They're going to get killed".

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