Patriots vs. Titans: 6 Bold Predictions

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

5. Marcus Mariota will be Titans’ leading rusher

First of all, the Patriots are going to suffocate the Titans’ ground game. The New England front seven ranks 10th in overall rush defense, and Antonio Andrews’ 3.7 yards per carry average doesn’t exactly shake the ground with intimidation. The loss of Dominique Easley for the season affects the interior pass rush more than it does the run defense, so there won’t be a drop-off in that arena. Alan Branch, Malcom Brown and Akiem Hicks won’t give Andrews an inch of space up the middle.

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As it turns out, Mariota has been the most effective ball carrier for the Titans. Every time he ditches the thought of throwing the ball and tucks and runs, Mariota picks up 7.4 yards. On the season, the rookie has 252 rushing yards to his name.

Mariota’s scrambling ability will present some problems for the Patriots’ defense, more so than any between-the-tackles runs by Andrews. On plays when the Patriots’ pass rush doesn’t reach Mariota and he has time to survey the field, expect Mariota to not hesitate about scrambling.

Even with Jamie Collins spying from the middle linebacker position, Mariota will experience some success running the ball, frustrating the Patriots on multiple occasions and extending drives. On the day, Mariota will lead the Titans by accumulating 60 rushing yards.

Next: 4. Pats won’t allow more than 1/3 of 3rd down attempts