Titans Set to Face Patriots in AFC Divisional Round


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans made a heck of a comeback on Saturday night in Kansas City.

The team's come-from-behind win over the Chiefs has energized the fan base, and gotten the attention of those across the NFL.

Now the Titans await an even bigger challenge – the defending Super Bowl champs are up next, at their place. The Titans will face the New England Patriots on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. in the AFC divisional round of the playoffs.

"It will be a good challenge obviously," Titans coach Mike Mularkey said on a conference call on Sunday. "They're the No.1 seed, home-field advantage throughout. I'd like to just see us play our best football to see where we are at with these guys.

"It will be a big challenge going up there. But I like our football team, I like their mindset, and when you get into the playoffs, anything can happen. ... If you want to go to where we want to go, these are the kind of games you have to win. And I think this is a good test for our football team."

Titans center Ben Jones was asked on Sunday about the team being a heavy underdog against the Patriots. "Every team is good in the playoffs, and if you want to be the champion, at some point you have to beat them," Jones said. "But the Patriots are a top-notch team, and that's the reason they are the No.1 seed almost every year.

"They have a great defense, and they have an offense surrounded by a Hall of Fame quarterback in Tom Brady. So we know what we have (ahead of us).We just have to go out there and play a perfect game."

The Patriots finished the regular season with a 13-3 record, and ranked No.1 in the NFL in total offense, averaging 394.2 yards per game. The Patriots ranked second in the NFL in scoring (28.6 per game), were second in the NFL in passing yards per game (276.1) and 10th in rushing yards (118.1).

Quarterback Tom Brady, of course, leads the way. Tight end Rob Gronkowski led the Patriots with 69 catches for 1,084 yards and eight touchdown during the regular season, while Dion Lewis led the rushing attack with 896 yards.

Defensively, the Patriots finished the regular season ranked 29th in the NFL on defense, allowing 366.0 yards per game. But the Patriots allowed just 18.5 points per game (5th overall), despite allowing 251.2 yards passing yards per game (ranked 30th) and 114.8 yards per game on the ground (20th).

Mularkey said the Patriots are "a very disciplined" team that doesn't make a lot of mistakes despite using complex schemes on both sides of the football.

"You look at their offense and they are No.2 in least turnovers," Mularkey said of the Patriots. "Obviously they are well coached and have been all these years and because of the championships, that's proof to show for it."

Mularkey said the Titans will be ready.

"I think they know now we can win in a playoff situation," Mularkey said. "Jacksonville was as close to a playoff atmosphere (at the end of the regular season) as it can possibly be, so that's two games we had to win and our guys have found a way to win them.

"Obviously we still have work to do, there's no question about that, in all three phases. … I think (winning) gives us some confidence. I hope it does, because it should, that we can win and win anywhere, against anybody, any time."

The Tennessee Titans edge the Kansas City Chiefs 22-21 in an AFC Wild Card playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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