Event: New England Patriots (0-0) vs. Tennessee Titans (0-0) - Regular Season, Week 1.
Date/Time: Sunday, September 10, 2012 - 1:00 p.m. ET.
Location: LD Field (Capacity: 6,143), Nashville, Tennessee.
Broadcast Info: Sunday's season opener between the Patriots and Titans will be televised regionally on CBS (Ch. 4 in Boston and surrounding areas) and on DirecTV channel No. 712. The game can also be heard on the radio on WBZ-FM 98.5 The Sports Hub, with Gil Santos and Scott Zolak on the call, and on Sirius channel No. 92.
Odds: New England is favored over Tennessee by less than five points (per OddsShark).
Patriots 53-Man Roster: View the New England Patriots' 53-man roster by clicking here.
Titans 53-Man Roster: View the Tennessee Titans' 53-man roster by clicking here.
Last Season: New England is coming off of a very successful season in which it reached the Super Bowl, but lost to the rival New York Giants. The 2011 version of the Pats went 13-3, best in the AFC, and easily took care of the Denver Broncos and barely squeaked past the Baltimore Ravens en route to the big game in Indianapolis. Tennessee went 9-7 last season, finishing second in the AFC South and failing to qualify for the postseason.
Preseason: New England went 1-3 in the preseason, defeating the New Orleans Saints (7-6) in the opener but losing to the Philadelphia Eagles (27-17), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30-28) and the New York Giants (6-3). Tennessee was 3-1 in preseason action, dropping the opener to the Seattle Seahawks (27-17) but defeating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (30-7), the Arizona Cardinals (32-27) and the New Orleans Saints (10-6).
Last Meeting: New England and Tennessee last met on October 18, 2009, when the Pats smoked the Titans, 59-0, at snowy Gillette Stadium. Tom Brady exploded for six touchdown passes while throwing for 380 yards. Wes Welker had 10 grabs for 150 yards and two scores and Laurence Maroney racked up 123 rushing yards and one touchdown. Titans' back Chris Johnson had 128 rushing yards and then quarterback Vince Young failed to record a passing yard on two attempts. As a team, the Titans posted -7 passing yards.
Storyline: The season opener always leads to interesting discussions. It's a clean slate for both sides, and we all know that anything can happen in the National Football League. New England, which revamped its passing game in the offseason by bringing back Wes Welker and adding Brandon Lloyd enters as the favorite, and rightfully so coming off another trip to the Super Bowl. Questions loom about the Patriots' offensive line and its ability to guard Brady, who is the No. 1 key to the team's success. The running game is slightly hampered by injury, with second-year back Shane Vereen sitting out, but Stevan Ridley is a capable back who will take the handoffs from Brady. Defensively, the Patriots young defense has appeared to mature, but it remains to be seen if it can stop opponents as Brady and head coach Bill Belichick try to lead the team to their sixth Super Bowl appearance together.
Players To Watch: Keep an eye on that Tom Brady guy. He's pretty good, in case you didn't know. Brady's performance will dictate the game for both sides. Brandon Lloyd didn't factor much into the preseason offense, but with all of the starters on the field, we'll get a chance to see what's he's really made of. Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez will all be targeted by Brady, most likely, as the game goes on. For the Titans, second-year quarterback Jake Locker has been handed the keys to the offense, as he jumped ahead of former Boston College and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Chris Johnson is in the backfield, and could rack up the yards against a still unproven Patriots defense.
Prediction: It's the NFL, and sometimes predictions are meaningless (I'm sure I'll be wrong a lot this year). I'm going to give the edge to New England here. More talent on the Patriots' roster and a sense of determination after coming up short in the Super Bowl should fuel this team back to the playoffs, and possibly more. First, though, they should start by taking down the Titans, and pretty handily at that. Final Score: Patriots 31, Titans 17.