Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Rick Zamperin: Playing to be in the NFL's final four

Both played college football in Alabama - Bates at Auburn and Trawick at Troy - and they joined Tennessee from the Oakland Raiders.

His return should shake up the Patriots' depth chart, as he was paired with Brandin Cooks as the team's top two receivers when through the first half of the season. It's not about what you've accomplished in the regular season or over the course of your career.

Despite the distraction caused by an ESPN story about dissension between owner Robert Kraft, head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, all three will be determined more than ever to win one more trophy before the dynasty ends.

Local players to watch: Tennessee - QB Marcus Mariota (Oregon).

Bell has just started bitching about his contract to the media again, not a good omen for a selfish dude who has a history of letting his team down.

Belichick said he wanted nothing to do with reports that were "inaccurate and unattributable", and that he had no desire to respond to random and "baseless comments". Maybe, just maybe, they can make the Pats worry. Their core players are solid - Trawick and Bates, Weems and those guys.

This weekend brings us the Divisional Round, where the remaining eight teams are vying for a spot in the AFC and NFC Championship games.

That 13-point spread will be the biggest of these playoffs regardless of what happens going forward. The New England Patriots offensive line has actually improved as the season went on.

Currently, Henry leads the team with 744 yards rushing. King had 236 special-teams plays, even though he missed three games with a hamstring injury. If the NFL Network is part of your cable package, you can also live stream the game through the NFL app on XBox, Apple TV, or Roku device on your TV.

New England and Tennessee have met just seven times in the Tom Brady/Bill Belichick Era with the Patriots holding a 6-1 record in those games including a playoff win in January of 2004. Mariota had some bad throws and plays, but he scrambled for some big first downs and made some big throws to win the game.

Casey and the defensive front can take away that time. Trawick was on the field for four.

The Patriots are the healthiest they've been in months. "Now, our focus is only New England", Ryan said after Wednesday's Titans practice. So how can you catch the game elsewhere? If they're able to score touchdowns, things could get interesting. "There are only 53 guys on the roster, so when someone goes down - and it's football, there's an opportunity for injury every week - you have to know exactly what's going on so you can step in".

New England is the -175 favourite to win the AFC title again with Tennessee at +1800.

Derrick Henry shined in Murray's absence as the Titans scored a 22-21 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs during Wild Card Weekend. Six are listed as questionable: running backs Rex Burkhead, James White and Mike Gillislee, defensive end Eric Lee, defensive tackle Alan Branch and linebacker Marquis Flowers. CBS will televise the game.

This is why the Patriots will march on to next week's AFC Championship game, toward a sixth Super Bowl title and second in a row and toward rewriting the National Football League history books.

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