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

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