The New England Patriots have made it six in a row after defeating the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium in Week 12, 36-13. This game was a bit closer than that final score suggests, particularly in the first half. The Patriots entered halftime up by just a field goal as Tennessee was able to hang around, despite missing a number of key pieces on offense. However, the second half -- as it's been for the past few weeks -- has been where New England has routinely slammed the door shut as they were able to go on a 20-0 run over the final two quarters.
With this win, the Patriots have moved up to the No. 2 seed in the AFC and now have a massive battle on deck against the BIlls in Buffalo on "Monday Night Football.'' With this being the first time these two division rivals have faced one another this year and both effectively neck-and-neck in the AFC East race, this head-to-head is poised to be one of the biggest games of the year for New England. Before we turn our full attention to that contest, however, let's take one last look back at this win over Tennessee and see which way a number of players are trending coming out of Week 12.
Stock up: Kendrick Bourne
Kendrick Bourne is the latest free-agent addition from this offseason to break out. The receiver was a key cog in the offense from wire to wire and helped New England get on the board first by making an impressive red-zone catch from Mac Jones where he had to beat his defender, break out to the back right corner of the end zone and make the leaping catch.
Bourne then followed that catch up with a back-breaking 41-yard touchdown where he made a number of defenders miss and was able to open the game up in favor of the Patriots. Also, credit to Jakobi Meyers for a key block on this touchdown run.
Bourne finished his day catching five of his six targets for 61 yards and those two scores.
Stock down: Run defense
New England had issues stopping the run against Tennessee, which is a rather concerning development given that the team was without both its first string (Derrick Henry) and second string (Jeremy McNichols) backs. On the day, the Patriots surrendered 270 yards on the ground on 6.9 yards per carry. Dontrell Hilliard and D'Onta Foreman both rushed for over 100 yards, with Hilliard having the most productive day, notching 131 yards on the ground, including a 68-yard touchdown before the half.
Hilliard caught the Patriots defense sleeping with roughly 40 seconds on the clock before the half and ran the ball up the gut essentially untouched as he rolled to the end zone.
That'll be something New England must improve upon going forward if they want to keep this streak alive.
Stock up: Nick Folk
Nick Folk continues to be one of the most consistent players on the Patriots this season. Against Tennessee, New England struggled to find the end zone (more on that below), but Folk was able to come in and put points on the board. He hit five of his six field-goal attempts with his lone miss coming from 53 yards out. He also netted all three of his extra-point attempts, accounting for 18 points on the afternoon. In this game, Folk also netted his fifth 50-yard field goal of the season, which ties him with Stephen Gostkowski (2013) for the franchise record for a season.
Stock down: Red zone offense
It was a rough day at the office for the Patriots red zone offense as they converted on just two of their fives trips when they got inside the 20. It was an all-around shaky effort by New England when they entered that area of the field from the play calling to the quarterback play. While this specific play came just outside the red zone, Mac Jones' miss to Hunter Henry on what should have been a walk-in touchdown was a good example of how this offense was just a tick off when they got within spitting distance of the end zone.
Stock up: J.C. Jackson
J.C. Jackson continues to be one of the more clutch figures in the Patriots defense and has quite the knack for creating turnovers. He recorded an end zone interception off Ryan Tannehill in the fourth quarter that eliminated a scoring opportunity by the Titans, but his best play of the game come on Tennessee's opening drive of the second half. With just a six-point Patriots lead, Titans running back D'Onta Foreman was in the midst of a 30-yard run that was set to flip the field. However, Jackson was able to race up and catch Foreman to punch the ball loose and force a fumble, which Jalen Mills would recover.
According to PFF, Jackson allowed just two catches on the day for 10 yards along with that interception.
Stock down: Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson
The backfield has been an area of strength for the Patriots all season, but it was a slow day at the office for both Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson. They combined for 86 yards and a touchdown in what was one of their least impactful games of the year. Those numbers were particularly poor at the break when the Patriots had just 23 yards rushing on 2.6 yards per carry. At halftime, tight end Jonnu Smith had more rushing yards (9) than both Harris (8) and Stevenson (6), despite recording multiple carries. Again, the running game has been arguably the best piece of the Patriots offense for the bulk of the season, so this is likely just a one-off with this unit returning to form over the next few weeks.