Arguably the most intriguing game on the Week 12 slate today is the New England Patriots playing host to the Tennessee Titans in Foxborough. Mike Vrabel's team comes into this head-to-head as the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but is looking to rebound following a surprising loss to the Texans a week ago. Meanwhile, the Patriots are surging into this contest on a five-game winning streak and just took over first place in the AFC East following Week 11. No matter which way this game ends up, it'll certainly have drastic implications to the current playoff picture in the AFC.
While we wait for this game to actually kick off, let this be your preview for what's to come. Below, we'll tell you how you can watch this game unfold on CBS, reveal our keys to the game, and make our prediction for how we see this shaking out.
How to watch
Keys to the game
Third down efficiency
Part of New England's success this season has been its ability to extend drives. Coming into Week 12, the Patriots are converting 46% of their third-down chances, which ranks fifth-best in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tennessee has held opponents to a 39% conversion rate on third down this season, the 10th-lowest mark in the NFL. While the Patriots offense will see some resistance in that situation, it doesn't come close to what Ryan Tannehill and the Titans offense could be up against. New England's defense is allowing 36% of their third-down chances to be converted this season, which is the sixth-lowest mark in the NFL. Meanwhile, Tennessee is just a middle-of-the-road offense on third down, ranking 15th in the league with a 41% conversion rate.
Ryan Tannehill vs. pressure
Ryan Tannehill has not dealt with a lot of pressure this season, ranking near the bottom in the NFL in a number of categories. He's 27th in the NFL in yards per attempt (5.3) when pressured and his passer rating is 53.8. Meanwhile, he ranks 28th in the NFL in touchdowns/interception ratio under pressure. This could be a problem for him on Sunday when he faces a Patriots defense that has been able to pressure the quarterback on 34% of dropbacks this season (fourth-highest in the NFL).
Both of these teams enter this game 7-4 ATS this season, so something will need to give in this pivotal AFC matchup. I like the Patriots to cover and win their sixth straight against a Titans team that is still banged up. They've been a bit one-dimensional without Derrick Henry and still won't have Julio Jones for this matchup either. That only leaves A.J. Brown -- who is also dealing with a chest injury -- for Bill Belichick to scheme against and take away. If he's successful and makes Brown a non-factor, it will be a tall task for Tannehill to throw his way to victory on Sunday.
Pick: Patriots 27, Titans 17