Titans Have No Chance Against Brady in Bah-ston?

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Do The Titans Stand A Chance Against Tom Brady’s Patriots?

Yesterday I heard the following conversation in the hallway to my office:

“Do you think the Titans have a chance against Brady?”

“Not gonna happen my friend.  They gotta go up to Bah-ston to play the Pats.  No way they gonna win against Brady.”

It was clear with the respondents thick New England accent that he is pretty certain that the Titans might as well stay in Nashville instead of wasting time playing in the American Football Conference Divisional Playoff game at New England this Saturday.

The Titans advanced to this playoff round after “upsetting” the Kansas City Chiefs, 22-21, in last week’s Wildcard Playoff game in Kansas City.  They called that one an upset but not many people were surprised about it.  It’s a little different this week.

The defending Super Bowl champs are 100 point favorites in the game.  (Actually, it’s 13.5)

I have read this week any thoughts on any possibilities of how the Titans could pull off one of the biggest upsets in NFL playoff history this weekend.  Here are some of the ideas of how it could happen:

  • Tom Brady gets injured
  • Marcus Mariota has the best game of his career.
  • Patriots turnover the ball five times.
  • Derrick Henry gets 200 yards rushing.
  • Titans’ defense totally plays beyond their ability.

Yeah, doesn’t look very hopeful to me either.

I’m sure the most diehard Titans’ fans have the faith but you’d compare them to people who still believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.  Sure, there’s always a chance.  Upsets happen.  The NFL hasn’t had one in a while.  In fact, I wondered about NFL upsets in the playoffs.  Here are the five biggest upsets in NFL playoff history:

  1. Jacksonville Jaguars 30, Denver Broncos 27 – 1996 AFC Divisional Playoffs:  No one saw this coming.  The Jaguars had made the playoffs in their second year of existence and played the Broncos who were 13-3.  The Broncos jumped out to a 12-0 lead but missed both extra point attempts.  The Jaguars came back to dominate the Broncos.
  2. Seattle Seahawks 41, New Orleans Saints 36 – 2010 NFC Wildcard:  The Saints were the defending Super Bowl champions.  It was a quirky situation since the Seahawks were hosting the playoff game with a 7-9 record as champions of a weak NFC West.  Seattle RB Marshawn Lynch punished the Saints with 131 yards in perhaps the best game of his career.
  3. Atlanta Falcons 27, Green Bay Packers 7 – 2002 NFC Wildcard:  It was all you heard before this game – “Green Bay had never lost a playoff game on the frozen tundra” – The Falcons dominated the Packers as Green Bay turned the ball over five times.  Brett Favre had a complete meltdown in the game.
  4. Los Angeles Rams 21, Dallas Cowboys 19 – 1979 NFC Divisional Playoffs:  The Cowboys came into the game with an 11-5 record and had played in the two previous Super Bowls.  The Rams were 9-7 but QB Vince Ferragamo played lights-out in the game with two touchdown passes in what was Dallas Cowboys’ QB Roger Staubach’s last game.
  5. New York Giants 15, San Francisco 49ers 13 – 1990 NFC Championship Game:  The 49ers were the dynasty at the time and were expected to return to the Super Bowl.  With just over two minutes left in the game, 49er RB Roger Craig fumbled the ball which was recovered by Giants’ LB Lawrence Taylor to set up the game winning field goal by Matt Bahr.

There were many games to choose from but these stood out from the lists.  Some of the common factors which led to upsets in NFL playoff games were:

  • An NFL star player had the worst game of their season or career.
  • Favored team had at least five turnovers.
  • Player on underdog team had a career game.

So with the Patriots as a 13.5 point favorite this weekend, what are the top five point spreads in NFL playoff history (including Super Bowls):

  1. 19 points – San Francisco 49ers vs. San Diego Chargers (Super Bowl XXIX) – 49ers won 49-26.
  2. 18 points – Baltimore Colts vs. New York Jets (Super Bowl III) – Jets upset the Colts 16-7.
  3. 16.5 points – Minnesota Vikings vs. Arizona Cardinals (1998 NFC Divisional Playoffs) – Vikings won 41-21
  4. 15.5 points – San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears (1994 NFC Divisional Playoffs) – 49ers won 44-15.
  5. 15 points – Dallas Cowboys vs. Atlanta Falcons (1978 NFC Divisional Playoffs) – Cowboys won 27-20.

With the New England Patriots seemingly just using this week’s game against the Titans as a warmup for their AFC Championship matchup with Pittsburgh in two weeks, I wondered about the last times that New England had suffered an upset in the NFL Playoffs:

  • 2012 AFC Championship Game – Lost to Baltimore Ravens 28-13.
    • Patriots were 7.5 point favorites
    • Tom Brady was “un-Brady like” with two interceptions.
    • Patriots had 3 turnovers vs. none for Ravens.
  • 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs – Lost to NY Jets 28-21.
    • Patriots were 9.5 point favorites
    • Brady was sacked 5 times for 40 yards
    • Jets QB Mark Sanchez outplayed Tom Brady.  He completed 16 of 25 passes for 194 yards and three touchdowns.
  • 2009 AFC Wild Card Game – Lost to Baltimore Ravens 33-14.
    • Patriots were 4 point favorites
    • Ravens outrushed the Patriots 234-64.
    • Patriots had four turnovers.
    • Ravens got off to fast start with 83-yard TD on first play

The New England Patriots are 7-1 against Tennessee.  The only win for the Titans came on December 16. 2002 in their first-ever meeting in Nashville.  The Titans won 24-7.

The last time the Titans played the Patriots in the postseason was in January 2004.  Patriots’ Kicker Adam Vinatieri gave New England the win with a 46-yard field goal with less than five minutes left for a 17-14 win.  Another note about that game – it was the coldest game in Patriots’ history (4 degrees with minus 10 degree wind chill at kickoff).    This Saturday’s forecast predicts a rainy day with temps around 19 at kickoff.

Most of the football world expects the New England Patriots to easily dispatch of the Tennessee Titans and continue toward another Super Bowl trophy.  All signs point to that.  Every NFL expert gives the Patriots the green light this weekend.  Funny thing about the game of football, it’s not played with a round ball.  It bounces funny (even without deflate gate issues).   These are the kinds of games that set the stage for the term “upset”.   No one expects.  Patriot-haters secretly hope for it.

If there’s one thing I have learned in all the years of watching football is that you can never assume anything.  Just when you think you have it figured out, something happens.  This could either be the biggest upset in the NFL playoffs in recent years or the Patriots will do exactly what everyone expects to happen.

You’re playing against Brady in Bah-ston, Titans have no chance right?

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My Top Five Super Bowl Games

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This weekend will be the 51st game of the Super Bowl.  The Atlanta Falcons will play the New England Patriots for the title on Sunday.  Today, I am looking back at the top five Super Bowl games I have watched.

I’m not quite old enough to remember the first Super Bowl, which was not yet known by that name when Green Bay defeated Kansas City.  That was in 1967 and I was two years old.  The first Super Bowl that I remember watching was 1977 when the Oakland Raiders beat Minnesota 32-14.

Looking back, here are my favorite games:

XX – Chicago Bears 46, New England Patriots 10 

Yes, it was a huge blowout but I was all about the Super Bowl shuffle, Refrigerator Perry running the ball and Walter Payton finally winning a championship.  The Patriots stunned everyone by getting to the game for the first time.   They have been back a few times since then.

XLIX – New England Patriots 28, Seattle Seahawks 24 

I didn’t really like either of these teams but of the two, I liked the Patriots more.  It will always be a mystery why Pete Carroll decided to go with a pass at the New England 1-yard line with 26 seconds left.  Malcolm Butler intercepted Russell Wilson’s pass to save the game for the Patriots.  We will never know why the Seahawks didn’t give the ball to running back Marshawn Lynch.  Conspiracy theories over this abound.  The Patriots were fresh off the “deflate gate” win in the AFC Championship Game.

XXV – New York Giants 20, Buffalo Bills 19

This was the first close game in several years.  Buffalo’s kicker Scott Norwood missed a field goal in the closing seconds.  This was the first of four straight Super Bowl appearances – and losses – by Buffalo.  Giants running back Ottis Anderson was the game’s Most Valuable Player (MVP) as he had 21 carries for 102 yards and one touchdown.

XXXIV – St. Louis Rams 23, Tennessee Titans 16

It was indeed a game of inches as Tennessee Titans receiver Kevin Dyson was stopped one yard short of the goal line as time expired to give the Rams their first Super Bowl title.  The Rams were lead by a potent offensive attack lead by Kurt Warner.  The Rams jumped out to a 16-0 lead but it took a game saving tackle by Rams linebacker Mike Jones in the end.   This was probably one of the most exciting games on this list.

XIII – Pittsburgh Steelers 35, Dallas Cowboys 31

We will always wonder how this game would have turned out if Cowboy’s tight end Jackie Smith had not dropped a pass in the end zone in the third quarter with the Cowboys trailing the Steelers 21-14.   Dallas had to settle for a field goal.  That point differential was crucial in the end.  The Steelers went up 35-17 in the fourth before the Cowboys rallied to close within 35-31 with 22 seconds left.

Another close one this year?

According to Madden NFL, the video game predicts that the New England Patriots will beat the Atlanta Falcons 27-24 in another close game that comes down to the final seconds.