Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/3/12

New England at Tennessee

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, at LP Field, Nashville - TV: CBS; DirecTV: 712

*TV announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms

*Keys to the game: Jake Locker might be ready to start, but preparing for a Bill Belichick defense doesn't come with a manuscript. The Patriots' porous secondary and fits-and-starts pass rush led to many big plays for opponents last season. They anticipate being more prepared to contend with the likes of Nate Washington and TE Jared Cook this season by mixing it up between three- and four-man fronts and bringing pressure from all angles. Locker can be more effective if RB Chris Johnson's revival continues. He was solid in the preseason after sputtering in 2011. The Patriots have a vast, talented receiving corps with more options for QB Tom Brady than ever before. The offseason focus of Tennessee coach Mike Munchak was his defense getting to the quarterback when it counts. That falls on newcomer Kamerion Wimbley and a solid collection of interior pass rushers against a revamped, and hardly bulletproof, offensive line.

*Matchup to watch - Brady vs. Patriots LB Colin McCarthy: McCarthy was a wunderkind as a rookie last season and picked off three passes in the 2012 preseason. He's the most consistent playmaker on a defense that invested heavily to keep its young defensive backs -- CB Jason McCourty, FS Michael Griffin -- in place at the back end of the defense after letting Cortland Finnegan go in free agency.

*Player spotlight - Patriots RB Stevan Ridley: The starter in name, Ridley's leash won't be infinite with Shane Vereen and Danny Woodhead also ticketed for niche roles. Ridley is the most complete player in the group and looked the part in August with 34 carries for 152 yards and one touchdown.

*Fast facts: Johnson, entering his fifth season, ranked 10th in NFL history for total rushing yards through a player's first four seasons. ... The Patriots have won the AFC East eight times in 10 seasons since division realignment in 2002.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Titans send defensive linemen at the quarterback in waves, but they will need a major tidal wave of pressure to rattle Tom Brady, who has precision route-runners at wide receiver and big, athletic options at tight end to help him dissect even the most disciplined defenses.

*Our pick: Patriots 33-19

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Bright future for Minnesota Timberwolves

Eli and Archie Manning say Peyton won’t likely leave Denver if he plays in 2016

NCAA mulls changes to graduate transfer and targeting rules

Cavs active in NBA trade market, covet Jared Dudley

Roger Goodell expectedly dodges Patriots-related questions at Super Bowl

Baltimore Orioles acquire starting pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

USC athletic director Pat Haden to retire in June

Report: Browns owner ‘frustrated, emotional’ about Johnny Manziel

Raiders and Texans to play MNF game in Mexico City in 2016

Goodell wants to keep Raiders, Chargers in home markets

Deadly shooting breaks out at Dublin boxing weigh-in

Mike Shula vs. Wade Phillips: The best story of Super Bowl 50

WATCH: Avery Bradley nails buzzer beater to beat Cavs

WATCH: Jimmy Butler taken to locker room in wheel chair

Klay Thompson's first five years in historical context

WATCH: Cubs' Kris Bryant went swimming with sharks

Sports Authority taking steps to file for bankruptcy

Major League Baseball threatens to disassociate from DraftKings

NFL considering moving Pro Bowl to Australia

Joe Montana warns NFL players about potential long-term damage after retirement

Report: Two people fired for leaking Jason Pierre-Paul information

USMNT are big favorites against Canada

‘Crying Jordan’ photographer had no idea it existed until this week

NHL nightmare: No Canadian teams in the NHL playoff hunt

Seven unheralded players set to make major impacts in SB 50

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 14 biggest plays in Super Bowl history

Manziel's father fears for QB's life

Johnny Manziel dropped by agent

Michael Irvin: Cowboys should save Manziel

QUIZ: Name the Super Bowl halftime performers since 1991

The merits of trading Blake Griffin to the Hornets

X-factors in Super Bowl 50

Could the Marlins contend in 2016?

Report: Browns to cut Manziel in March

Browns rip Manziel in statement

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker