Today's game

January 10, 2004|By Los Angeles Times

AFC divisional playoff

Tennessee Titans (13-4) at New England Patriots (14-2)

Site: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Mass.

Time: 8:15 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9.

Line: Patriots by 6.

Record vs. spread: Titans 8-8-1. Patriots 13-2-1.

Series: Patriots lead 19-16-1.

Last meeting: Patriots won, 38-30, on Oct. 5 at New England.

Story line: New England has won 12 consecutive games, including a 38-30 victory over Tennessee on Oct. 5. The Patriots have been winning with an intimidating defense and efficient offense, led by quarterback Tom Brady. Tennessee is coming off a 20-17 wild-card victory over the Ravens. This will be a game between two of the NFL's top defenses against the run.

When the Titans have the ball: Veteran Eddie George rushed for 88 yards in 25 carries against the Ravens, thanks to a strong effort from his offensive line. George and rookie Chris Brown need to be productive to help quarterback Steve McNair, who passed for nearly 400 yards against the Patriots during the regular season. McNair is at his best when he utilizes a variety of receivers. Tight end Frank Wycheck (Maryland) will be an important target, especially on third down against New England strong safety Rodney Harrison.

When the Patriots have the ball: Although they did not have a 1,000-yard rusher, the Patriots rushed for 1,607 yards as a team, with Antowain Smith and Kevin Faulk leading the way. The key for the Patriots' offense is taking care of the football; it had only five turnovers at home during the regular season. Brady loves to spread the ball around, with David Givens emerging as his big-play receiver over the final weeks of the season.

Bottom line: McNair, who is less than 100 percent because of injuries, will need his mobility to scramble for yards against the Patriots, who should be more than ready after a week off. Look for New England to advance in a tight game.

- Los Angeles Times

Injuries

TITANS: Questionable: LB Ken Amato (ankle/hamstring); WR Eddie Berlin (concussion); LB Rocky Calmus (leg); RB Eddie George (shoulder/ankle); RB Robert Holcombe (hamstring); QB Steve McNair (ankle/calf); CB Samari Rolle (concussion); WR Jake Schifino (leg).

PATRIOTS: No injuries reported.

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