AFC Divisional Round: Marcus Mariota vs. Tom Brady

Last Updated: 2018-01-10

When the Tennessee Titans and New England Patriots kickoff their divisional playoff game, one team will have all of the accomplishments. In turn, the other team is just lucky to be there. The Patriots are a 13.5 point favorites headed into the matchup and one of the big reasons is due to the quarterback position.

Tom Brady led the Patriots to the No. 1 seed in the AFC with a (13-3) record. They have the No. 2 scoring offense in the NFL at 28.6 points per game. Meaning, the Patriots have the best offense left in the NFL playoffs. They aren’t always explosive on the offensive side of the ball, but they have been consistent throughout most of the games.

For example, Brady has led the Patriots to at least 20 points in 15 of the 16 games. Their lowest scoring game of the season was a 19-14 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Moreover, the Patriots only produced one game over 40 points in 2017. That was a 41-16 victory over the Denver Broncos. As a result, the Patriots have scored between 20 and 37 points in 14 games. They finished the regular season with seven games over 30 points. So the question remains how the Titans will slow down Brady.

Brady enters the game with 32 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He threw for 4,577 yards, while completing 66 percent of his pass attempts. Brady really started on fire. However, he threw 6 of his 8 interceptions in the final six weeks of the season. His struggles didn’t end against the New York Jets when he only finished with a 48.6 completion percentage rate in the season-finale. Yet, Brady still connected for two touchdown passes in the win.

Meanwhile, Marcus Mariota has to play a different game than Brady on Saturday night. Mariota is not nearly as prolific a passer as Brady. He finished the season with 3,232 passing yards, 13 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Mariota did complete 62 percent of his pass attempts. However, the offense struggled as the Titans finished with a (9-7) record. They earned the No. 5 seed and shocked the No. 4 seed Kansas City Chiefs in a thrilling second-half comeback.

The Titans are averaging 20.9 points per game. Mariota made plays down the stretch, but the Titans needed luck and bad calls to even remain in the game in the Wild Card round. Remember, Mariota fumbled on sack that was ruled forward progress. Moments later, the Titans kicked a field goal to get on the board. It was the catapult to get their offense going in the second half. However, Mariota cannot expect to get any type of bad calls to go his way. In fact, to complete a second straight upset, Mariota must play his best game ever to offset a game that will probably be riddled with bad calls against the Titans. That means Mariota must be the best athlete on the field.

If he has to run for first downs, Mariota can’t hesitate. He also must make every available throw against a susceptible defense. Mariota doesn’t have time to grow up in the divisional round, either. He has one game of playoff experience. If he puts his best foot forward, the Titans will have a chance. However, if Mariota crumbles in the moment, the game can get out of hand early.

The Titans only have three 30-point games in the 2017 season. All three games came in the first six weeks of the season. Since then, they haven’t scored more than 24 points in a single game. Due to pretty good defense, Mariota might not have to score 30. However, history shows they’ll need at least 24 points to win.

Brady will be appearing in his 35th playoff game. He’s (25-9) in those starts. The Patriots have scored 21 or fewer points in 8 of the 9 playoff losses. Moreover, 2 of Brady’s 25 playoff wins have come when the Patriots’ scored in the teens. Meaning, the Patriots have a formula and it’s to score points. Those two wins came during the first two Super Bowl runs.

Mariota has only seen action against the Patriots one time. He completed 3-of-6 passes in his rookie year. Meanwhile, Brady is (5-1) in six appearances against the Titans’ organization.

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