The Patriots have been compared to a sporting dynasty and to Palpatine's Evil Empire. Regardless of which is true, there's no denying that New England enters these playoffs more vulnerable than in quite a few years.
One thing we've learned since Tom Brady went from 199th draft pick to dominant NFL figure is not to dismiss him and his Patriots. Sure, they have been ultra-sloppy in the second half of the schedule, and blowing a bye with a home loss to the Dolphins not only was stunning, it was inexcusable.
Not that the Patriots are looking backward. They never do.
“Everything we want is still out there in front of us,” running back James White says. “Just got to recalibrate, short week, good opponent, just got to be ready to go, go out there and have fun, play physical, know your job, do it to the best of your abilities. You never know which play is going to make a difference.”
The big difference in Tennessee is at quarterback, where Ryan Tannehill has been dynamic and a winner since taking over for Marcus Mariota. Derrick Henry led the league in rushing and is a threat inside or outside. The defense is solid enough, though it doesn't measure up to New England's league leaders.
Mike Vrabel has the look of a coach on the rise, as does his team. No. 12 (AP Pro32) Tennessee is a 4 1-2-point underdog for Saturday night at No. 7 New England.
Pro Picks just can't go against the Brady Bunch in this one, as tempting as it might be.