Another game, another dumbfounding Patriots victory.
How do they do it? Will all these injuries catch up to them? Time will tell...
But back to the game. The Patriots entered Sunday's matchup with the Titans with the outside possibility of locking up a first round bye. New England would need to beat the Titans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers would have to beat the Denver Broncos (Spoiler Alert: Pats got the bye).
However, this was one of the weirder games that the Patriots have participated in this season. They were up early, and, at the half, looked to be on the verge of a complete blowout. But for some strange reason, Belichick left Dont'a Hightower, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski in this game. In these next two weeks, with a bye locked up and home field advantage almost certain, it would behoove the Patriots to start resting some of their ailing superstars.
The Patriots offense sputtered at times, but were still able to put up their fair share amount of points. Rob Gronkowski was back in his usual role playing most snaps, while Tom Brady was extremely sharp to start the game, and cooled off as the game progressed. Brandon LaFell also caught a couple big passes, which would be huge for not only the Patriots offense, but his self confidence, if he can get going down the stretch.
Once again, the defense was on a different planet yesterday. Jabaal Sheard, Jamie Collins, Alan Branch, Akiem Hicks, Rob Ninkovich and Chandler Jones were getting to the quarterback with ease, which eventually knocked Marcus Mariota out of the game. Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan played well, but need to be ready to go against bigger wide receivers, as Green-Beckham gave them some problems.
Unfortunately, as it seems to be the norm now, we need to talk about injuries. Dont'a Hightower and Danny Amendola both came up short with apparent knee injuries, which is almost certainly re-aggravated from earlier in the season. The Patriots should sit those guys down and not let them see the field until January. They are just too valuable to lose in a meaningless blowout against the Titans. Patrick Chung (hip) was also shaken up, but appears to be okay as he was seen walking out of the Patriots facility after the game with no limp or assistance.
Next up, the Pats take on the surging Jets. This is a big game for the Jets, as their playoff hopes are dwindling. How will the Pats approach this game? Only time will tell.
By Pete Packowski