New England (11-4) at Tennessee (8-7) Sunday 1:00 pm EST
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Ticker) -- The New England Patriots are
headed to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. The
Tennessee Titans would like to join them in the postseason
The Titans have won six straight games to keep alive their
playoff hopes heading into Sunday's contest against the
Tennessee needs a win along with losses by Cincinnati and Denver
and a win by Kansas City to make the playoffs.
But even if the Titans fall short, the streak has served notice
to the rest of the league that the franchise is on the rise with
rookie Vince Young at quarterback. Since coach Jeff Fisher made
the move from Kerry Collins to Young, the Titans have gone 8-4.
The third overall pick in the draft, Young has passed for 1,972
yards and 12 touchdowns with 11 interceptions and rushed for 523
yards and six scores.
Young scored on a 36-yard run and Travis Henry rushed for 135
yards in the Titans' 30-29 win at Buffalo last week. Henry has
rushed for 1,184 yards this season.
The winning streak has virtually assured that the Titans will
pick up coach Jeff Fisher's $5.3 million option in 2007. They
probably should lock up Fisher to a long-term extension.
The Patriots have won four straight AFC East titles under coach
Two-time Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady passed for 249 yards,
including a 22-yard touchdown to rookie tight end David Thomas,
in last week's division-clinching 24-21 win at Jacksonville.
Brady has been the quarterback for the Pats' five division
crowns since 2001. Included in that is three Super Bowl titles
The key to the latest division crown was a 6-1 road record
heading into the contest at Tennessee.
The Patriots welcomed back star safety Rodney Harrison last week
after he missed six games with a broken shoulder blade.
Harrison recovered a fumble by Jacksonville quarterback David
Garrard in the final minute to seal the win over the Jaguars.
Only Baltimore has allowed fewer points than the Patriots (14.3
per game). Yet Richard Seymour, who plays end and tackle, was
the lone Patriot selected to the Pro Bowl.
New England will play in the wild-card round next week.
The Titans have come up with a late-season surge and are hoping to make it into the playoffs as a wildcard team. The only chance they have is to win the last game and get some help. They have been playing very hard for head coach Jeff Fisher and have surprised a lot of opponents in this late-season run.
Quarterback Vince Young, while not putting up great numbers, has gotten the team to rally around him and has had several fourth quarter rallies to come from behind and win the game. New England meanwhile needs to get the momentum rolling in its favor as it works its way into the playoffs. While the Pats have been winning, it hasn't been pretty.
Tight end Ben Watson has missed time, along with defensive nose tackle Vince Wilfork and running back Laurence Maroney, and they need to get both of them back into game shape. Look for head coach Bill Belichick to get those guys involved without showing opponents they may be facing in the playoffs too much of what he has to offer.