The New England Patriots will play in a Wild Card Game for the first time since 2009 after losing a close battle against the Miami Dolphins, 27-24, on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Dolphins match was supposed to be a walk in the park for the Patriots as they entered the week as a 15.5-point favorite. However, the Dolphins pulled off the biggest surprise of the season, thwarting the Patriots’ attempt to clinch the No. 2 seed in the AFC and the first-round bye that accompanies it. Now, the Patriots have to travel a longer path en route to another Super Bowl appearance by taking on the Tennessee Titans on the Wild Card Game on Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

The only silver lining for the third-seed Patriots is that they are a 4.5-point favorite over the sixth seed Titans, per Action Network. The Titans made it to the playoffs with a 9-7 record after winning five of their last seven games. A familiar face will be across the field when the Patriots take on the Titans as they are set to face their former linebacker and current Tennessee head coach Mike Vrabel, who won three Super Bowl rings in New England from 2001 to 2008. This season, the two teams met in the preseason with the Patriots emerging as a 22-17 winner, but it would be a different scenario when a spot in the next round of the playoffs is at stake.

Vrabel says Titans will walk into viper’s den

When asked about their Saturday’s encounter with the Patriots, Vrabel said his team would be basically walking into the viper’s den. “We’re going to have to go on the road and beat a team that’s won a lot of playoff games up there,” Vrabel said in an interview following their 35-14 win over the Houston Texans, per a report by Zack Cox of the New England Sports Network (NESN).

Vrabel admitted that the Titans are facing insurmountable task with the Patriots are unbeaten at Gillette Stadium since losing to the Baltimore Ravens in the 2013 AFC Championship Game. “They’re no strangers to winning playoff football games at home,” Vrabel emphasized, adding they have to do it on the road in a tough environment and against a tough Patriots defense.

Patriots defense shines this season

According to Patriots.com, the team’s defense set a new franchise record for fewest points allowed in a season. In 16 games, the Patriots allowed an average of 14.0 points per game, which is the best in the league in terms of points allowed. This was not the first time that the Patriots finished No. 1 in average points allowed, as they yielded an NFL-low 15.6 points per game in 2016 and 14.9 points per game in 2003.

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The Patriots also extended their streak of 400-plus points per season to 13 straight years after finishing with 420 in 2019.

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