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Pats defense faces titanic test

Posted: Friday, January 09, 2004

In one of the best games of the NFL's regular season, the Tennessee Titans went to Foxboro on Oct. 5 and lost to the New England Patriots 38-30.

When the Titans return Saturday for a second-round playoff game, they will be trying to do what no team has done since score a meaningful touchdown at New England. In six home games since facing the Titans, the Patriots have three shutouts, and the only TD they allowed came late in an easy win over Jacksonville.

The Patriots are favored by six points. Here's why:

That home record.

Their week off they're rested and fit.

Titans quarterback Steve McNair's wobbly legs he was healthy the first time they played the Patriots.

PATRIOTS, 17-13

Green Bay (plus 5 1/2) at Philadelphia

The Philly fans are worried more about the Packers than the Rams, the presumed opponent in the NFC title game.

And they probably should be worried more about Ahman Green than Brett Favre. The Eagles have problems stopping the run, and Green led the NFC with 1,883 yards.

Even with all that ...

EAGLES, 27-20

Indianapolis (plus 3) at Kansas City

The Chiefs have a history of losing opening playoff games at home, although Arrowhead is a hard place for road teams to play.

Upset?

COLTS, 34-33

Carolina (plus 7 1/2) at St. Louis

Carolina's defense was immovable against Dallas and is the Panthers' main hope here Marc Bulger has been prone to turnovers.

But the Rams have won their last 14 home games, and their speed on turf is tremendous, on offense and defense. Add in the Rams' playoff experience and their week off and ...

RAMS, 27-10

LAST WEEK: 2-2 (spread); 3-1 (straight up)

REGULAR SEASON: 143-108-5 (spread); 162-94 (straight up)



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