Behind Enemy Lines

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Behind Enemy Lines: A Look at the New England Patriots

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NASHVILLE – The Titans face the New England Patriots on Saturday night in an AFC Wild Card playoff contest at Gillette Stadium.

Here's a quick look at the Patriots:

Record: 12-4.

Last game: Lost to the Dolphins, 27-24.

Points for/against: 26.3/14.1 ppg.

NFL RANKINGS

Offense: 15th overall, 354.0 ypg (18th rushing, 8th passing).

Defense: 1st overall, 275.9 ypg (6th rushing, 2nd passing).

TEAM LEADERS

Head coach: Bill Belichick.

Offense:

QB: Tom Brady (373-of-613, 4,057 yards, 24 TDs, 8 INTs, 88.0 rating).

Top RB: Sony Michel (247 carries, 912 yards, 7 TDs).

Top WR: Julian Edelman (100 catches, 1,117 yards, 6 TDs).

Top TE: Ben Watson (17 catches, 173 yards, 0 TDs).

Defense:

Sacks: LB Jamie Collins (7.0).

Leading tackler: LB Jamie Collins (82).

Interceptions: CB Stephon Gilmore (6).

Take/Give: plus-21.

Kicker: Nick Folk (14-of-17 FGs, 12-of-12 PATs).

Punter: Jake Bailey 44.9 (41.3).

Last meeting: November 13, 2018: Titans 34, Patriots 10.

OF NOTE

-The Patriots just won the AFC East division for the 11th consecutive season and won their 12th game for the 9th time in the past 10 seasons.

-Patriots coach Bill Belichick has the most playoff experience (42 games) and postseason wins (31) among head coaches in NFL history. He has six Super Bowl victories, most all-time among head coaches.

-Patriots QB Tom Brady is the all-time postseason leader in games played (40), wins (30), completions (1,005), pass yards (11,179) and touchdown passes (73).

-The Patriots had three players named to the Pro Bowl (CB Stephon Gilmore, LB Dont'a Hightower and ST Matthew Slater).

-The Patriots defense allowed 275.9 yards per game in 2019, the fewest by a NE team since 1977 and allowed a league-low 14.1 points per game, the fewest in the NFL since the 2008 Steelers (13.9).

-New England's 21-plus turnover differential is the best in the NFL.

INJURY REPORT

LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (knee)

DB Terrence Brooks (groin)

T Marcus Cannon (ankle)

LB Jamie Collins (shoulder)

WR Julian Edelman (knee/shoulder)

CB Jonathan Jones (groin)

CB Jason McCourty (groin)

PATRIOTS HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL TRANSCRIPT

(on what Ryan Tannehill is doing this season compared to when he was in Miami that has allowed him to play at a higher level)
I've always thought he was a good quarterback. I thought he did a good job in Miami. You probably have to talk to Mike (Vrabel) and Arthur (Smith) about the why part of it. He runs the offense well, makes good decisions. He's obviously athletic and got a really good group of receivers. I mean, the offense works well together with their strong running game and play-action passes, and he's hit them. He's made good decisions with the ball. Really impressive offense and their system, very impressive.

(on some of the things that stand out to him about the Titans)
Well-coached, very fundamentally sound, a good technique team. A tough, physical, aggressive team. Great situational football. They're aggressive. All the things we saw in training camp, all the things that Mike (Vrabel) emphasizes.

(on the challenge of defending a running back like Derrick Henry)
He does everything well. He's got really good vision, he's got quick feet for a big man, elusive in the open field, but runs with good power. Gets a lot of extra yards on his own. Hard to tackle. He's a really good football player.

(on what makes A.J. Brown a solid player)
He's big, he's fast, he's quick out of his breaks, strong after the catch. He's obviously got great speed. He's gone the distance against Oakland, Jacksonville – the games are running together here. Seen him catch those in cuts or slant routes. He just split the defense and just ran right through him. Runs through arm tackles. He's a big, strong kid. Big target, goes up and gets the ball. Made some good catches on the sideline.

(on if there is anything unique about the way the Titans play through contact at skill positions)
I mean, the guys that are big and strong are big and strong. Those receivers block well. Their blocking is impressive. They really go after them. They're just strong when they get the ball in their hands.

(on if there are any challenges in playing the Titans considering the numerous ties to the Patriots' organization)
I mean, I don't know. We go through that every week, so there's always somebody that was here, or somebody that was there – players, coaches. This game will be decided by the players on the field and how well they perform on Saturday night. I think that's what this game is really about.

(on if he's expecting the Patriots to bounce back quickly from losing in Week 17 to the Dolphins)
We've moved on.

(on what Mike Vrabel has done to turn the Titans from 2-4 to a playoff team)
I mean, it was very competitive working against the Titans in training camp. We haven't really seen a lot of them since then until really the last couple of days. Then, we've seen a lot of their more recent games. They've obviously been impressive. Since about, I don't know, Week 6, Week 7, whenever it was, yeah. Lost a tough game to Houston, lost a tough game to New Orleans, but they were very competitive in those games. They basically beat everybody else – Kansas City, Jacksonville, Oakland, Indianapolis. Won a lot of those game handily with strong team performances – offense, defense, special teams. They've done a good job. Again, it's a good football team, it's a well-balanced team.

(on if there is anything he can pick up and use this week from the joint practices with the Titans in training camp)
It was a good experience for us working against the Titans. It certainly helped us prepare for the season, work on our fundamentals and that kind of thing. It wasn't a lot of scheming or game planning in practice, or in the preseason game. It was, like I said, an opportunity for us. Anyway, I'd imagine Mike (Vrabel) feels the same way, just to work on our fundamentals and all that. I'm sure there were things that we all learned from that, but that really wasn't what it was about. It was about trying to get our team better rather than trying to scheme for a preseason opponent. This is clearly a different kind of game. I think that this game has a lot of different dynamics than the matchup in August did.

(on how he went about choosing Tom Brady as his quarterback over Drew Bledsoe in 2001)
That was a long time ago. All the decisions I make are based on what I feel like is best for our football team. Every decision really does fall under the same category – always try to do what's best for our team.

(on how Joejuan Williams has developed in his rookie season)
Joejuan (Williams) has done a good job for us. He's learned a lot. We have pretty good depth at that position, and he's taken on some different roles for us. I think he's worked hard and improved on a regular basis. I think he's a good football player. Glad we have him.

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