The Tennessee Titans have seemingly saved some of their best performances when the odds were roundly against them.
Consider going to Los Angeles and thoroughly whipping the Rams a couple of weeks ago in their first game without Derrick Henry.
And conversely, some of their worst moments have come when they were seemingly inches from the cup only to three-putt themselves into an embarrassing loss, like Sunday's five-turnover debacle against the Houston Texans on Sunday.
The Titans certainly have their backs against the wall with their injury issues and a big challenge coming Sunday when they travel to face the revamped and suddenly red-hot New England Patriots.
Bill Belichick only needed one season without Tom Brady to retool with rookie Mac Jones and now has the Pats back in first place in the AFC East at 7-4 and on a five-game winning streak.
Titans coach Mike Vrabel knows Belichick well, having played eight seasons for him, and knows his team will have to reverse fortune from what took place Sunday with five turnovers – something that won't be easy against New England.
“They have created 13 turnovers in five games. They have won five games in a row. Number one scoring defense in the league,” Vrabel said. “Offense has been very efficient, number six scoring offense. They are not turning it over and they are not doing things that beat themselves. Obviously, they have done a great job of taking advantage of bad football. They are well coached. They are running the football and playing physical so it will be a huge challenge.”
The Titans were missing plenty of pieces on Sunday, and it bit them as Ryan Tannehill was intercepted four times. By the end of the game, the Titans were without receivers A.J. Brown and Marcus Johnson to go along with all the key players who were already out of action and on injured reserve.
Whoever takes the field for Tennessee against the Pats will have a tall order, just to take care of the football.
“They are turning the football over. Guys understand where to create turnovers at and they are good on the edges,” Vrabel said Monday.
The Titans defense will also get a test from a Patriots team that is improving and borrowing a page from the Titans' old playbook of running the ball and using play-action to ease Jones' responsibilities.
“Guys play with great technique up front. They are running the football and marrying that with the play action game. Receivers all block, they are all selfless, they all understand that their effort is going to help whichever back they have in the game at the time run the football. The quarterback is accurate,” Vrabel said.
The Titans placed backup linebacker Joe Jones on the Covid-19 reserve list.