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VOL. 44 | NO. 1 | Friday, January 3, 2020

Titans can’t allow Patriots to shut Henry down this time

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The Tennessee Titans face a daunting task in the first round of the AFC Playoffs this weekend, traveling to Foxboro to face the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots.

The Titans have not won in Foxboro since relocating to Tennessee in 1997. Among those losses are a pair of playoff games – in 2003 and 2017 – and a 59-0 drubbing back in 2009 that tied the record for worst shutout loss in modern NFL history.

But these Titans have to believe their familiarity with Bill Belichick and the Patriots, plus a revitalized offense led by Ryan Tannehill, Derrick Henry and A.J. Brown, gives them a puncher’s chance.

Here is what the Titans must do in order to have a chance to pull the upset.

First down

Keep running with Derrick Henry. As Henry goes, so goes the Titans offense. Two years ago, New England’s defense shut him down. The Titans can’t let that happen, or it will be a short stay in the postseason.

Second down

Shore up the defensive leaks. The secondary was once a strength for the Titans until injuries to Malcolm Butler and Adoree’ Jackson wiped out the cornerback position. It would help if Jackson could come back from his foot injury and give the Titans something. Otherwise, Dean Pees will have to match wits with Tom Brady while playing short-handed.

Third down

Spread the ball around. A.J. Brown has become a star over the course of his rookie season. But you can bet that Stephon Gilmore will likely follow him a lot this weekend. Ryan Tannehill might have to throw to Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith will have a big time in a big game for the Titans.

Fourth down

Don’t let kicking be an issue. The Titans have had kicking problems all season long. Greg Joseph was signed a couple of weeks ago and thus far has not had any hiccups. He also hasn’t been asked to kick in any clutch situations.

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