"Field goals won't beat us". Otherwise, the Patriots will be playing host to another AFC championship. And yet... As Bleacher Report pointed out on Tuesday, in a piece that characterized Bortles as the quarterback's answer to Rob Gronkowski, there remains the ineluctably frustrating sense that Bortles has the pure, unrefined talent to be able to do prodigious things on a football field. "We've got to be good in the red zone".
Patriots coach Bill Belichick also weighed in on the team's preparations for the Titans game on Thursday morning. He was used more as a rotational player at the start of the season.
That's just a starker example of a defensive dissonance that's commonplace at Foxborough.
Travel delays do occasionally happen, and the Patriots found themselves waiting on the tarmac themselves a year ago in January.
"When it comes down to it, it's all about us", Mariota said.
"The guy is a magician out there; he does everything we can ever ask him", left tackle Taylor Lewan told reporters. "So defensively, it's all about not giving up touchdowns". You never know when Belichick, being the mage that he is, will strike. They do a lot of different things, whether it's their fronts, whether it's their schemes and their coverages.
This week's Samsonite Make Your Case question is: Which member of the Titans offense will be toughest for the Patriots defense to deal with? The Titans are going to need several guys to keep Gronk in check.
The Patriots hit back hard after the article was published, issuing a joint statement from Belichick, Brady and Kraft refuting numerous conclusions reached - among them that Kraft ordered Belichick to trade backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to appease Brady, that Belichick was unhappy about coaching in New England and that Brady's personal trainer had created a divide in the locker room. "You do all the meetings, and walk-throughs, and March, April, May, June try to work out and be prepared for the season, and you get through it and you make it through a whole season and have a chance to compete with everything at stake", he said.
Titans defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has experience against the Brady-led Patriots in the playoffs.
Divisional round games continue on Sunday with the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3), who like the Patriots and Eagles had a first-round bye, hosting AFC South victor Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6). The rest of the football world will be waiting for the clock to strike midnight and for the playoff version of the Titans to revert to the turnover-prone, low-scoring team we all remember. For the Tennessee Titans, this year's trip was even more hard than usual. This will actually be Tennessee's sixth contest over the last nine that has not been at home.
PRESSURE: The Titans ranked fifth in the league with 43 sacks during the season and added four more against the Chiefs last week.
The Titans were down 21-3 to the Kansas City Chiefs last Saturday before storming back for a 22-21 victory at Arrowhead Stadium. He has 13 passing touchdowns and one interception in those games - his best touchdown to interception ratio against any opponent in his career. Henry managed just 51 yards and 1.8 yards per carry against the Jaguars, and afterward he felt like he ran soft.
If New England takes away what the Titans do best - run with Henry and Mariota - it will be up to Mariota to make plays with his arm.