What NFL experts are predicting for Saturday’s Patriots-Titans game

Will the Titans be able to capitalize on the distraction caused by ESPN's story?

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady plays against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

COMMENTARY

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has had quite the fortnight.

Still, somewhere in between deflecting criticism from a Seth Wickersham piece on ESPN that somewhat portrays him as a petulant veteran, Brady’s people found the time to released a trailer for his new documentary premiering at some point on Facebook. In it, Brady deems himself a warrior, someone who sacrifices all for his time on the football field.

And did you know he’s 40?

Brady was asked about the film during his press conference on Thursday, as the Patriots prepared to face the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round of the NFL playoffs Saturday night.

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Why is he making this documentary?

“That’s a good question,” Brady said while taking a pause. “This is about Tennessee. We’re two days from the biggest game of the year.”

True. Then why release the trailer a mere three days before the biggest game of the year? What’s the message he’s trying to convey, other than what we already expect will be another avenue to push his brand?

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll see after the Tennessee game.”

No we won’t. Maybe after the Pittsburgh game. Maybe after the game in Minnesota.

Whenever the timing is more convenient for Brady, we assume.

This week’s picks

Jason Wolf, Tennessean: Patriots 37, Titans 24. “Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski are going to have a field day against the Titans’ defense. But this game could be a lot closer than many people seem to think, particularly if Tennessee can limit mistakes. Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry should be able to keep the chains moving. But the Patriots are five-time Super Bowl champs for a reason. The Titans will put up a fight, but they’re overmatched.”

Joe Rexrode, Tennessean: Patriots 30, Titans 23. “This is a case of chickening out because I have an impulse to pick the Titans to win this game. I think they can do it, and not just by getting all kinds of breaks. The Pats are not unbeatable, for one thing. The Titans are talented, confident and free of pressure, for another few things. I expect them to come out focused and making things happen on offense from the start. And then I expect Tom Brady to pull it out in the fourth quarter.”

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Greg Cote, Miami Herald: Patriots 31, Titans 13. “ESPN pulled the pin on a hand grenade and tossed it into New England’s camp this week with that (strongly denied) story alleging dissension among Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft, some of it over the trade of Jimmy Garoppolo. “Ooh, the dynasty is crumbling! Maybe the Patriots will be distracted and ripe for a big upset in Saturday’s prime-time game!” Yeah, sure. Just like Brady’s four-game Deflategate suspension kept the Pats from winning the Super Bowl last season, right? This team is as impervious to distractions as the rhinoceros is in the wild to that small bird perched on his tough hide. Sorry, Dolfans, but I give the Titans next to zero shot at beating Miami’s nemesis. Pats have won six in a row over Tennessee, which last won in Foxborough as the Houston Oilers (!) in 1993. As a head coach Mike Mularkey is 0-6 vs. New England. And the Titans will again be missing top RB DeMarco Murray here, while NE’s ground game will be fortified by the expected return of James White and Rex Burkhead. Titans safety Kevin Byard said this week his team plans to make Brady “look like Blake Bortles.” Um, good luck with that! Sidelight: This will be Belichick’s 37th career postseason game, surpassing two guys named Tom Landry and Don Shula for the most ever.”

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports: Patriots 24, Titans 20. “The Titans ran their way to this game last week, as Derrick Henry ran for 156 yards in the upset of the Chiefs on the road. The Chiefs were 26th in yards per attempt against, but the Patriots are even worse with a 31st ranking. That could mean another big day for Henry, and I think Henry will control the football in an effort to keep Tom Brady off the field. It will work to some extent, but I still think Brady will have his way with the Tennessee secondary. With all the talk of discourse inside the Patriots, this will be their chance to show none of it matters. Brady will have a good day throwing it, as the Patriots move on in a closer game than expected.”

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CBS Sports staff: Five out of eight pick New England (-13.5 Pats). Everybody takes the Patriots straight-up.

David Steele, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Titans 18. “It all looks so lopsided on the surface, but the Patriots can’t overlook either the resourcefulness of Mariota, as he displayed against the Chiefs, or a Titans defense that shut the Chiefs out in the second half. Also hard to overlook, regardless of his ridiculous resume: Brady threw interceptions in five straight games down the stretch, six picks in all, after only two picks in the seasons’s first 10 games.”

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News: Patriots 34, Titans 23. “The Titans will protect the ball and use the clock to make things interesting, but in the end, Brady will be more efficient with his possessions as the Patriots come through as the better red-zone team.”

SB Nation staff: Pats, Pats, Pats…..

Chris Simms, Bleacher Report: Patriots 34, Titans 20. “Tennessee can do it. The Titans need to get into a Bear front, put Sylvester Williams, Jurrell Casey and Austin Johnson—all fantastic interior defenders—over the guards and the center and consistently drop seven and eight guys into coverage. The Patriots don’t want to rely on the run. They have Brady and Rob Gronkowski, so why would they? Having said all of this, I’m not ignorant. I’m going to pick the Patriots, at home, rested and with additional time to game-plan. Even if Tennessee gives New England trouble early, expect things to finish like they did with the Houston Texans in last year’s divisional round.”

Jimmy Kempski, Philly Voice: Patriots. “The difference in quality in the playoffs in the NFC vs. the AFC this year is nuts. The Titans, Chiefs, Bills, and Jaguars are all inferior to the six playoff teams in the NFC. Meanwhile, this Patriots team isn’t nearly as good as many of their other teams over the last two decades, and yet, they’re the overwhelming favorite to win the Super Bowl, again.”

Five Thirty Eight: Patriots with an 85 percent chance of winning.

Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 30, Titans 20. “A team with a mobile quarterback and a nothing-to-lose mindset invades Foxboro with a highly unlikely final-four berth on the line. Marcus Mariota and Derrick Henry could give the Patriots fit, and maybe it won’t be a blowout. But the Patriots have the skill, the coaching, the experience, and the motivation to finish the job, again.”

Michael David Smith, Pro Football Talk: Patriots 35, Titans 20. “The Patriots are two-touchdown favorites, and that sounds about right to me. The Titans deserve credit for coming together in the second half in Kansas City, and I do think Derrick Henry could have a big game against New England’s defense, but the Titans just won’t have enough to keep this one close. Tom Brady will play in his 35th postseason game, and it will be a big one.”

ESPN staff: All Pats.

Elliot Harrison, NFL.com: Patriots 34, Titans 17. “This matchup brings back memories of the 2003 Divisional Round game in the bitter, bitter cold. And that Titans team is similar to this edition: athletic quarterback (Steve McNair/Marcus Mariota); big, long-striding tailback (Eddie George/Derrick Henry); and even a clutch tight end (Frank Wycheck/Delanie Walker). The problem is that Brady is simply a better player than he was back then. He will riddle the Tennessee secondary if the pass rush can’t get home. Dick LeBeau simply doesn’t have the horses on defense that the Texans had at their disposal in last season’s tighter-than-expected Divisional Round game in New England.”

It says here: Patriots 31, Titans 20. Barring a Ray Rice-like scamper on the first play of the game, the Titans’ run game might keep things close, but it’s a desperate angle for a victory in Foxborough.