New England’s defense has a well known weakness, and the Titans are going to be attacking that weakness all game on Saturday.
The Patriots‘ defense has gotten a lot of praise throughout the course of this season, but at times it has shown weaknesses. Four times this season, they have allowed an opposing running back to rush for at least 100 yards. They pride themselves on being defensively sound and putting the offense in position to do just enough to win games, but even with a 12-4 record, people question if the Patriots have the ability to do so.
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The Tennessee Titans are not one of the first teams that come to mind when you are thinking of the high-powered explosive and dangerous offenses around the league, but what they are good at is running the football. Derrick Henry was the NFL’s leading rusher in 2019 with 1540 yards in the regular season, so New England has their work cut out for them this weekend. Henry is a monster of a running back at 6’3″, 238 pounds. He is a physical runner, who is nearly impossible to bring down if he gets into the second level of the defense.
Derrick Henry is undoubtedly the foundation of the Titans’ offensive playbook, but he is not the only playmaker they have on that side of the ball. Since becoming the starter, Ryan Tannehill has been phenomenal for the Titans. He has a talented group of pass catchers surrounding him and a solid offensive line blocking for him, making his job much easier. In his 10 games that he has started, he has thrown for just shy of 2500 yards and has led the Titans to a 6-3 record to end the season.
New England’s linebackers will be tested more than anybody else in this game. They will need to match Derrick Henry’s physicality and not allow him to break their will. They also need to be cautious not to get caught staring in the backfield and being beat over the top. Guys like Elandon Roberts and Dont’a Hightower will be the difference in this game. They are the Patriots’ more run-stop type linebackers and Hightower is one of, if not the, smartest players on the defense. He will need to have his best performance of the season. It has been made clear that New England cannot rely on it’s offensive production to win games, so the defense will need to answer the call all game long and just win the field position battle for the offense. I’m sure the team has spent all week talking about Derrick Henry and his impact on the. defensive scheme, but they need to go out and execute come Saturday.