The Patriots are rested, recharged and rankled

The Patriots are rested, recharged and rankled

Recharged and rekindled are the New England Patriots, who await a go to from the Tennessee Titans within the AFC divisional playoffs subsequent weekend.

The Titans (10-7) are coming off their first playoff win in 14 seasons, a 22-21 thriller at Kansas Metropolis within the wild-card spherical Saturday that left the Chiefs winless at Arrowhead within the postseason since 1994.

The Patriots (13-Three) are contemporary off their eighth consecutive first-round bye as they search their third title in 4 years.

They don’t seem to be solely refreshed however fired up after a report suggesting a fractured relationship that might break up the franchise’s three most vital items in QB Tom Brady, coach Invoice Belichick and proprietor Robert Kraft.

Jacksonville (11-6), coming off its first playoff win in a decade, a 10-Three snoozer over Buffalo on Sunday, visits Pittsburgh (13-Three) within the different AFC divisional playoff recreation (1:05 p.m. ET Sunday on CBS).

The Steelers are hoping the weekend off helps Antonio Brown return from a torn calf he sustained on Dec. 17 towards New England.

The NFC’s prime seed, Philadelphia (13-Three), hosts the defending convention champion Atlanta Falcons (11-6) on Saturday (four:35 p.m. ET on NBC) and the Minnesota Vikings (13-Three) host the New Orleans Saints (four:40 p.m. ET Sunday on FOX).

The Saints (12-5) edged Carolina 31-26 Sunday night time within the wild-card weekend finale.

The Falcons throttled the upstart Los Angeles Rams 26-13 Saturday night time, sending the league’s finest comeback story of 2017 to a untimely finish.

The Patriots have gained 11 of 12 after stumbling to a 2-2 begin however the buzz round Boston is not about their regular dominance however whether or not that excellence may very well be coming to an finish quickly.

Brady, Belichick and Kraft launched a joint assertion this weekend dismissing as “flat-out inaccurate” an ESPN report detailing an array of pressure in New England between the triumphant triumvirate accountable for adorning staff headquarters with 5 championship trophies.

One of many many issues the Patriots are good at is navigating negativity.

Final yr they overcame the lack of tight finish Rob Gronkowski to win all of it they usually’re attempting to do the identical this yr with out receiver Julian Edelman and linebacker Dont’a Hightower, two of their largest stars.

The Titans got here again from a 21-Three halftime deficit Saturday at Kansas Metropolis and within the course of most likely saved coach Mike Mularkey’s job .

Workforce proprietor Amy Adams Strunk on Sunday mentioned her coach is not going wherever after serving to change the Titans’ tradition and main them to their first playoff victory in 14 years.

The Titans opened as 13-point underdogs to the Patriots (eight:15 p.m. ET on CBS).

“It is a good check for our soccer staff,” Mularkey mentioned, “however these are the kind of video games it’s a must to win.”

Or go house.

The Titans wanted an incredible comeback to get their newest win, which tied for the second-largest rally by a street staff within the playoffs. Dallas additionally overcame an 18-point deficit in 1972 within the divisional spherical to beat San Francisco.

Solely Detroit’s rally from 20 factors down in 1957 to beat the 49ers within the divisional spherical was greater than Tennessee’s comeback.

The opposite AFC recreation is a rematch of Week 5, when the Jaguars beat Pittsburgh 30-9 . Ben Roethlisberger, who threw 5 interceptions in that recreation, has led Pittsburgh to 10 wins in 11 video games since then with the lone loss coming towards the Patriots, 24-21 final month when Brown bought harm and missed a lot of the showdown in Pittsburgh.

In Blake Bortles, the Steelers will face a quarterback who ran for extra yards (88) than he threw for (87) Sunday and who put collectively one respectable drive all day.

“We weren’t sharp, we made some dangerous performs and did some silly stuff, however we discovered a method to win and that is all that issues,” mentioned Bortles, whose TD go to backup tight finish Ben Koyack late within the third quarter was his finest throw of the sport and a gutsy name on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Though they’re the sixth seed, the Falcons are the one NFC staff to make it again to the playoffs this yr, and that edge in expertise confirmed Saturday night time within the Rams’ first playoff recreation on the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum since 1979.

One yr after advancing to the Tremendous Bowl, the Falcons are “a battle-tested brotherhood,” urged coach Dan Quinn, who added Sunday “That form of expertise I believed actually confirmed up final night time.”

After displaying spectacular poise towards the Rams, it is on to Philadelphia, which is the NFC’s prime seed for the primary time since 2004 however is led by backup quarterback Nick Foles following a season-ending knee damage to MVP hopeful Carson Wentz.

So, it is no shock the Falcons opened as 2-point favorites on the street.

The Vikings are coming off a first-round playoff bye for the primary time since 2000 they usually’ll face a Saints staff that options Mark Ingram and rookie Alvin Kamara, who mixed for 1,852 yards speeding and 26 touchdowns throughout the common season however have been quiet Sunday, managing simply 45 yards on 19 carries however one in every of them was a 2-yard TD by Kamara.

The Vikings beat the Saints 29-19 on opening weekend when Sam Bradford and never Case Keenum was below middle for Minnesota.