Game Predictions & Player Projections - TEN vs. NE

David Dorey, @DMDorey

Prediction: TEN 13, NE 27

(Line: NE by 13.5, O/U = 47)

UPDATE #2: Rex Burkhead is no longer expected to play. That leaves Dion Lewis as the primary rusher and James White as the third-down back.

UPDATE: DeMarco Murray is out. The Patriots have listed Mike Gillislee, Rex Burkhead and James White as questionable. Gillislee is less likely to play having only had a limited day on Friday and being No. 4 on the depth chart anyway. Both Burkhead and White turned in limited practices every day and both are expected to play a role this week. At best, they'll just water down what Dion Lewis does.

The Titans become the most recent team to send a seemingly strong Chiefs team crashing to the ground. The Titans are only 4-5 on the road but rode both Derrick Henry and Marcus Mariota to the victory in Kansas City. The Patriots are 6-2 at home but won their last five home games and are happy enough to avoid the Chiefs that beat them in the season opener.

The weather should not be a factor here with around 44 degree temperature and minimal wind.

Tennessee Titans

1 OAK 16-26 10 CIN 24-20
2 @JAC 37-16 11 @PIT 17-40
3 SEA 33-27 12 @IND 20-16
4 @HOU 14-57 13 HOU 24-13
5 @MIA 10-16 14 @ARI 7-12
6 IND 36-22 15 @SF 23-25
7 @CLE 12-9 16 LAR 23-27
8 BYE xxx 17 JAC 15-10
9 BAL 23-20 18 @KC 22-21
News | Statistics | Roster
TEN@NE Rush Catch Pass
QB Marcus Mariota 30   230,1
RB Derrick Henry 50 1-10  
WR Eric Decker   3-30  
WR Rishard Matthews   4-70,1  
WR Corey Davis   4-40  
TE Delanie Walker   5-60  
PK Ryan Succop 2 FG 1 XP

Pregame Notes: The Titans not only won their playoff game but Marcus Mariota caught the only playoff touchdown pass thrown by himself. The Chiefs led 21-3 at halftime and the game seemed already over but the Chiefs never came out of the tunnel at halftime and Marcus Mariota finally appeared to be a bona fide NFL quarterback, even if he had to rely on himself for receptions. Notable too was Derrick Henry taking over the game with repeated long runs at the end of the game to kill the Chiefs chances. So this week, the question is which Titans team shows up? That first half disaster or the second half team that steam rolled a heavily favored home team?

QUARTERBACK: It was a six-yard reception. Marcus Mariota threw a desperation pass into the end zone and Darrelle Revis batted it back to Mariota who had the instant wherewithal to snatch it and leap for the pylon. Mariota would later connect with Eric Decker for the game winning score last week. But Mariota has been a major disappointment this year with only 13 passing touchdowns against 15 interceptions. He never threw for more than two scores in any game and averaged just 201 yards per home game.

RUNNING BACK: DeMarco Murray hasn't practiced this week as of Tuesday and by now he would only supply a minimal role. Derrick Henry has been the better rusher despite the split workload. He posted a career-best 156 yards and one score in the win over the Chiefs on 23 carries and became stronger as the game went on. Henry has minimal use as a receiver but scored six touchdowns this year and at the least is setting himself up for a significant jump in carries for 2018.

WIDE RECEIVER: Eric Decker caught the game winner last week but he only totaled two catches for 21 yards. It was only his second touchdown this year and first in an away game. Decker tends to remain around three catches for 30 or 40 yards in most games. Rishard Matthews was held to only once catch by the Chiefs but has been the best receiver for the Titans. He scored four times this year and his two best games of the year were over his final four road games. He's been held around three catches in most weeks as well but turned in four games with over 70 yards and each contained a touchdown.

The rookie Corey Davis still hasn't scored in the NFL or gained more than 39 yards in any road game.

TIGHT END: Delanie Walker only scored three times this year but two were at road venues and he tends to turn in around 60 yards in games where the Titans are forced to pass. Like this week.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Patriots started the year giving up plenty of yardage and scores to quarterbacks but since Week 7, they only allowed three touchdowns over the five home games and never more than one per opponent. With Mariota unlikely to connect with himself again, he'd do well enough for one scored. He is not a better quarterback than Matt Ryan or Philip Rivers who were both held to low yardage and one score there.

The strength of the defense is against the run and only two visiting teams managed to rush in a score on them. Melvin Gordon had a big effort there in Week 8 but most end up short of 60 rushing yards. And Henry needs the game to be close and the run still an option late in the game to start to log a meaningful game. He has a shot at one score but he's more likely to just provide moderate yardage even with Murray out.

The best chance for a wideout to turn in a score or higher yardage is with Rishard Matthews but this matchup is not nearly as advantageous as the rankings might suggest. And the Titans offense has been in the bottom five in quarterback, running back and wideouts this year.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points TEN 27 27 27 7 9 21
Preventing Fantasy Points NE 26 16 29 13 6 8

New England Patriots

1 KC 27-42 10 @DEN 41-16
2 @NO 36-20 11 @OAK 33-8
3 HOU 36-33 12 MIA 35-17
4 CAR 30-33 13 @BUF 23-3
5 @TB 19-14 14 @MIA 20-27
6 @NYJ 24-17 15 @PIT 27-24
7 ATL 23-7 16 BUF 37-16
8 LAC 21-13 17 NYJ 26-6
9 BYE xxx      
News | Statistics | Roster
NE vs. TEN Rush Catch Pass
QB Tom Brady     280,2
RB Dion Lewis 70,1 2-20  
RB James White 10 5-40  
WR Brandin Cooks   5-80,1  
WR Danny Amendola   3-30  
WR Philip Dorsett   2-20  
TE Rob Gronkowski   5-80,1  
PK S. Gostkowski 2 FG 3 XP

Pregame Notes: The Patriots spent most of their bye fending off rumors and accusations of team discord, political dysfunction and the possibility of Bill Belichick taking his hoodie and going to work for the Giants or any number of other teams. In the end, much ado about nothing apparently but it filled time. The Patriots won their last five home games and the defense has been very good in recent games. This is the most favored team this week and for good reason. A good weather game means that the Patriots can opt for either the pass or the run to take down the Titans. This is the game on Saturday night which is appropriate since it should be the least competitive game of the weekend.

QUARTERBACK: Tom Brady hasn't posted gaudy numbers this year but he scored in every home game and usually at least twice. The rushing effort has been better in the second half of the year and Brady hasn't throw for more than 300 yards since Week 11. He's as good as any of the eight starting quarterbacks this weekend to turn in the best fantasy production.

RUNNING BACK: James White may be back this week after missing two games because of his ankle. Rex Burkhead also missed two weeks but is back to practice and is likely to play. Mike Gillislee filled in but injured his knee and is not likely to play. Dion Lewis ended the regular season on a high note with a score in each of the last three games. He's accounted for well over 100 total yards in all home games since midseason. With White and Burkhead likely to return, it could depress Lewis's production.

WIDE RECEIVER: Brandin Cooks is the only wideout with any real production or fantasy value. He's scored five of his seven touchdowns while at home but his yardage varies significantly. He ends up around 80 yards usually but can swing up to 131 yards or down to only 19. Danny Amendola is just a support receiver with a few catches each week. Philip Dorsett has failed to carve out any meaningful role with the Patriots.

TIGHT END: Rob Gronkowski is money at home. He scored four times over the last three games there and usually ends up with 60 to 80 yards. He broke 100 yards three times but each was on the road.

MATCH TO THE DEFENSE: The Titans pass defense ranks below average and that is after playing against Jacoby Brissett and Blake Bortles twice, plus Joe Flacco, Tom Savage, Jay Cutler, Cody Kessler and Blaine Gabbert. There's no reason why Tom Brady cannot throw for at least moderate yardage and two scores here. He could go higher but won't have the need. Certainly, the Pats wont' ride a half-time lead after the Titans came back against the Chiefs last week. Brady should be productive here and could have a monster game if he wants. The game situation will dictate how high he needs to go. After all the commotion in the press last week about Belichick and Brady and Bob Kraft, Brady might want to light up the score board just because he can.

The Titans have only allowed one 100-yard rusher (Todd Gurley) and given up five rushing scores but they've faced mostly bad offenses. The Pats should be good for at least one rushing score that favors Dion Lewis but the backfield stats could end up in a three-way split with White and Burkhead potentially playing. And all depending on that lead, the Pats could mix-an-match backs more than usual and throw less.

Figure on Brady and Gronkowski has slam-dunks for a good to great game. Lewis is the next most likely to reward fantasy starts. But Cooks, Burkhead, White and even Amendola have a chance for notable production.

RANKS (1-32, 1 = BEST) TEAM QB RB WR TE PK DEF
Gaining Fantasy Points NE 6 2 16 4 3 23
Preventing Fantasy Points TEN 21 11 23 20 31 21

Sign up for free email updates

Our FREE email updates are packed with the player news and fantasy analysis you need! Always fresh, no spam, guaranteed!