Sport

Patriots stress importance of keeping Marcus Mariota in pocket

Patriots stress importance of keeping Marcus Mariota in pocket”

It hasn't been a great season for the former Heisman Trophy victor out of Oregon.

The Falcons meanwhile, desperate for a return trip to the Super Bowl next month after the trauma of blowing a 28-3 lead against the Patriots in last season's showpiece, have shown signs of a revival in recent weeks, and ground out a battling 26-13 win on the road against the much-fancied Los Angeles Rams last weekend in the wildcard round.

The biggest surprise of Wild-Card Weekend was sixth-seeded Tennessee (10-7 SU, 9-7-1 ATS) as an 8.5-point underdog going to AFC West champion Kansas City and winning 22-21 despite trailing 21-3 midway through the third quarter. The Patriots ranked 31st, allowing 4.7 yards per rushing play. In reality, this has been a very disappointing campaign for Mariota. After missing four straight games, he returned to action in a December 11 loss to the Miami Dolphins, but struggled as both a pass catcher (one reception on five targets) and blocker.

Maybe the Tennessee Titans are coming up for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at the ideal time. Few teams beat Tom Brady in Foxborough; that'd be like Jim Kirk losing a fistfight on the Enterprise bridge. How often is Tennessee going to see an offense like that? It is about as unfair a matchup as it gets.

"An extremely athletic guy, so there is a huge factor of mobility with him", defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said.

The Pats had a week off and the team did all they could to fix some of the problems they were having.

Dan Shaughnessy, a sports columnist with the Boston Globe, really stirred things up this week when he wrote a column titled: Forget the Titans. Brady is the guy for this team. The former fourth-round pick has established himself as Brady's most trusted target outside of Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski. Harmon, one of the team's captains, pointed out that Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota can be effective with his mobility and the Patriots have had trouble with mobile quarterbacks this season. Kelce had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown in the first half. It is also possible that the other running backs on the roster get a few carries here or there. "They played yesterday, our game got moved to tonight".

Why they'll lose: Henry goes haywire and becomes an unstoppable moving object.

It's a playoff game, so it's not like it's the preseason where I can go out there, 'Oh, it's Brady, ' and I'm chillin. The offensive line handled the Chiefs and Henry sliced through the six-man and seven-man boxes.

As for the Brady-Mariota matchup, it marks the second time they will face each other, though Mariota injured his knee early in the first matchup - a 33-16 Patriots win on December 20, 2015 - and played only 19 snaps that day.

The Patriots are at home and coming off a bye week.

Most of the games (2011 vs. Broncos, 2013 vs. Colts, 2016 vs. Texans, 2017 vs. Titans) have landed in the Saturday night slot.



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