NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS(11-4) atTENNESSEE TITANS* (8-7)
*Sunday, December 31, 2006
LP Field (69,149) at 1:00 p.m. EST
The Patriots will play their regular-season finale against the resurgent Tennessee Titans in Nashville on Sunday. The Titans have won six straight games and will provide a tough test for the Patriots heading into the playoffs. With Tennessee facing a must-win to keep its own playoff hopes alive, the Patriots will be presented with a solid challenge as they try to enter the postseason on a winning note.
New England Patriots - 2006 AFC East Champions
The Patriots have clinched their fourth straight AFC East title and will host a playoff game at Gillette Stadium the weekend of Jan. 6-7, 2007. If New England defeats Tennessee this week and the Indianapolis Colts lose at home to the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots would claim the third seed in the AFC playoffs and would host the sixthseeded AFC team. Any other combination of results would see the Patriots claim the AFC's fourth seed and host the fifth-seeded team on Sat., Jan. 6 or Sun., Jan. 7.
BEAST OF THE EAST
The Patriots have won four straight AFC East titles, tying the all-time record for consecutive titles in that division. New England's four straight AFC East crowns equals the totals of the Buffalo Bills from 1988-91 and of the Miami Dolphins on two occasions. The Patriots have won five of the last six division crowns dating back to 2001, recording an NFL-best 29-9 record within their division over that span. New England has won seven division titles since 1996, the highest total in the NFL over that span. The Patriots have won seven division titles in the 13 seasons since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994 after winning just three in the franchise's first 34 seasons from 1960-93.
The Patriots have allowed an average of 14.27 points through 15 games this season, a mark that ranks second in the NFL (Baltimore, 12.93), and are on track to challenge the Patriots franchise record of 14.88 points per game, set in 2003.
TELEVISION: This week's game will be broadcast by CBS. The game can be seen in Boston on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Dick Enberg will handle play-by-play duties and Randy Cross will provide analysis.
RADIO: WBCN 104.1 FM is the flagship station for the Patriots Rock Radio Network. Play-by-play broadcaster Gil Santos is in his 30th season as the voice of the Patriots and will call the action along with Patriots Hall of Famer Gino Cappelletti for the 23rd season.
The New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans (formerly the Houston Oilers) will play for the 38th time since the two charter members of the American Football League began play in 1960. The Patriots and Oilers played twice each year from 1960- 1969 in the AFL, and have played 16 times since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. In those 17 post-merger games, the Patriots have a 10-7 record, including a 1-1 mark in playoff games. New England leads the overall series, 20-16-1 and own an 8-3 record against the Titans franchise since 1981. The last game between the clubs came in the 2003 divisional playoffs, where New England advanced to the AFC Championship Game with a 17-14 victory in the coldest game in team history (4 degrees). The teams last tangled in regular-season play on Oct. 5, 2003, at Gillette Stadium, with the Patriots winning a 38-30 shootout. New England will make its first appearance in Tennessee since the 2002 season, when the Titans won 24-7 on Monday Night Football.
- The Patriots are playing their final two contests on the road (at Jacksonville and at Tennessee). New England is one of just three NFL teams to play each of its last two games on the road (also Arizona and Carolina).
- Troy Brown is the only current Patriot to play for New England against the Houston Oilers (10/17/93). He recorded his second career reception in that game, a 14-yard grab from Scott Secules in the third quarter of a 28-14 Oilers victory.
- The Houston Oilers dealt the Patriots their only home playoff loss in team history, coming away with a 31-14 win in an AFC Divisional game at Schaefer Stadium (12/31/78).
- LP Field, the home of the Titans, is the only current AFC stadium in which the Patriots have played at least one game and have never won. New England is 0-1 all-time at the stadium, dropping a 24-7 decision on Monday Night Football on Dec. 16, 2002.
- Since the Patriots and Titans last squared off in the regular season (2003), the Patriots have played all of the AFC teams and all but two of the other 30 NFL teams. The only two NFL teams who the Patriots have gone longer without playing in the regular season are Philadelphia and Washington.
The Patriots have an all-time record of 71-43-1 (.622) against the teams that make up the AFC South. It is the only division in the NFL where the Patriots own a winning record against each team. New England owns winning marks against Tennessee (20-16-1), Indianapolis (43-26), Jacksonville (6-1) and Houston (2-0). New England has won 11 of its last 13 games against AFC South teams. The Patriots play each of the four AFC South teams this season as part of the NFL's scheduling rotation. New England fell to Indianapolis, 27-20 on Nov. 5, defeated Houston, 40-7 on Dec. 17 and beat Jacksonville 24-21 on Dec. 24.
- Patriots head coach Bill Belichick was born in Nashville.
- When he was head coach of the Cleveland Browns, Bill Belichick hired Jim Schwartz into the scouting department in 1993. Schwartz is now the defensive coordinator for the Titans.
- At the University of Texas, Patriots tight end David Thomas was a four-year teammate of Titans quarterback Vince Young (2002-05) and a three-year teammate of fullback Ahmard Hall (2003-05) and tight end Bo Scaife (2002-04). Thomas won an NCAA National Championship with the Longhorns while playing with Young and Hall. In the 2006 Rose Bowl against USC, Thomas and Young connected on 10 passes for 88 yards in leading Texas to victory.
- Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson and Titans safety Chris Hope share the hometown of Rock Hill, S.C. They played against each other in high school while Watson was at Northwestern High and Hope was at Rock Hill High.
- Patriots running backs coach Ivan Fears served on the Chicago Bears coaching staff with Titans assistant head coach/linebackers coach Dave McGinnis from 1993-95.
- Patriots tight end Daniel Graham and Titans running back Chris Brown played together at Colorado for three seasons from 1999-2001.
- Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski and Titans defensive tackle Tony Brown were teammates at the University of Memphis from 2002-03.
- Patriots safety Rashad Baker was teammates with Titans running back Travis Henry at the University of Tennessee in 2000 and with the Buffalo Bills in 2004. Baker also played at the University of Tennessee with Titans defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth (2000-01) and defensive tackle Jesse Mahelona (2002-03).
- Titans cornerback Reynaldo Hill was a teammate of Patriots wide receivers Kelvin Kight (2003) and Chad Jackson (2003-04) at the University of Florida.
- Patriots offensive lineman Russ Hochstein and Titans defensive end Kyle Vanden Bosch were four-year teammates at the University of Nebraska from 1997-2000.
- Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel spent four years (2001-04) at the University of Southern California while Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow served in the same role with the Trojans. Also, Cassel and Titans running back Lendale White played together at USC from 2003-04.
- Patriots running back Corey Dillon ran behind an offensive line at the University of Washington in 1996 that featured current Titans guard Benji Olson.
- Patriots cornerback Chad Scott and Titans safety Chris Hope played together with the Pittsburgh Steelers from 2002-04.
- Titans center Kevin Mawae played for the New York Jets from 1998-2005 during which time he was teammates with both Patriots quarterback Vinny Testaverde (1998-2003; 2005) and Ray Mickens (1998-2004) for seven seasons.
- Patriots tight end Daniel Graham attended Thomas Jefferson High in Denver, Colo., the same high school as Titans cornerback Andre Woolfolk. While in high school, they competed against Titans tight end Bo Scaife, who went to rival J.K. Mullen High.
- Titans defensive end Sean Conover was born in Brockton, Mass, and attended Whitman-Hanson High School. He was named all-league, Brockton Enterprise and Patriot-Ledger allscholastic team and Shriner's All-Star selection.
- Titans tight end Casey Cramer attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H. He ranks second in Big Green history with 185 catches for 2,477 yards and 21 touchdowns as a tight end.
- Titans strength and conditioning coach Steve Watterson is a native of Newport, R.I.
- Titans defensive assistant Matt Burke, a native of Hudson, Mass., began his coaching career at Bridgton Academy in Maine (1998-99). He broke into the college ranks in 2000 at Boston College as a graduate assistant from 2001-02. Prior to joining the Titans, Burke was the assistant secondary coach for one season (2003) at Harvard. Burke played for four years at Dartmouth College.
- Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ran for his first career touchdown as he called his own number and got the Patriots on the scoreboard with a 10-yard quarterback sneak up the middle at Tennessee (12/16/02).
- Running back Kevin Faulk was selected by the Patriots in the second round of the 1999 NFL Draft (46 overall). The pick was acquired in a trade with the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the Patriots second-round pick (52 overall-John Thornton) and fourth-round pick (117 overall-Donald Mitchell).
- Titans head coach Jeff Fisher was on Chicago's injured reserve list in 1985 and was assisting defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan as an "unofficial" coach when the Bears beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XX. PASSING PERFORMANCES
Tom Brady will face off against the Titans for the fourth time in his career. He has recorded a 2-1 record as a starter against Tennessee and has won each of his last two starts against the Titans, leading the Patriots to a victory from a fourth-quarter tie in the 2003 divisional playoffs and leading his team to a win from a fourth-quarter deficit in the 2003 regular seaon.
The Patriots have allowed opposing offenses to score just 20 touchdowns through 15 games this season, a mark that is tied for the lowest total in the NFL.
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
DIGGING DEEP - OFFENSE
The Patriots' NFL-leading fourth-down conversion rate this season. They have been successful on 15-of-19 fourth-down tries.
32The number of goal-to-go situations the Patriots offense has been in this season. The mark is tied for the third highest in the NFL.
The Patriots' team passer rating inside the 30-yared line this season. The mark is the second highest in the NFL.
The percentage of the time the Patriots have scored a touchdown when they have entered the red zone this season. The mark is the fourth best in the NFL.
The percentage of the time the Patriots have scored a touchdown while in a goal-to-go situation. They are tied for fifth in the NFL.
The percentage of the time that the Patriots have converted on third-and-one or fourth-and-one. The mark ranks third in the NFL.
The Patriots' NFL-leading kickoff return average this season. Primary returner Laurence Maroney is tied for the league lead with an average of 28.0 yards per return.
DIGGING DEEP - DEFENSE
The number of touchdowns allowed by the Patriots defense this season. It is tied for the lowest total in the NFL.
Patriots opponents' passer rating inside the 30-yard line this season. The mark is the lowest in the NFL.
The percentage that Patriots opponents have scored a touchdown when driving inside of the 30-yard line this season. The mark is the second lowest in the NFL.
The number of rushes of 20 yards or longer allowed by the Patriots this season. The mark is tied for the best in the NFL.
16The total number of points that the Patriots have allowed in the final two minutes of either the first or second half this season. The total is the best in the NFL.
The percentage of opponents rushes that have gone for four yards or longer. The mark is the second best in the NFL.
Patriots opponents' conversion rate on fourth down this season. The mark is the second lowest in the NFL.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
The average number of yards per play gained by the Patriots when they are in the red zone. The mark is second in the NFL.
The average number of yards per play allowed by the Patriots in the red zone. The mark is the best in the NFL.
The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed in 2006.
The Patriots' NFL rank in points allowed per game. Only Baltimore (12.93) ranks higher.
14.9The Patriots team record for fewest points allowed per game in a full season, achieved in 2004.
17.48The average number of points per game the Patriots have allowed since 2001, a mark that ranks third in the NFL over that span.
15.75The average number of points per game that the Patriots have allowed at Gillette Stadium since it opened in 2002. The mark represents the fewest points per game allowed at home over that span.
The number of times Bill Belichick's defenses have finished in the NFL's top 10 in fewest points allowed since he was first named a defensive coordinator in 1985.
THE KRAFT ERA
The number of regular-season and playoff victories the Patriots have earned since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994. That mark is the highest total in the NFL over that span.
4The number of times the Patriots have appeared in the Super Bowl since Robert Kraft bought the team in 1994. No other team has made more than two Super Bowl appearances in that span.
The Patriots' overall record since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994 (including postseason), a .627 winning percentage. The figure ranks second in the NFL over that span.
The Patriots' record at home since 1994, including regularseason and postseason games, a winning percentage of .705.
The Patriots' record at Gillette Stadium, including regular-season and postseason games (.795 win pct).
7The number of AFC East titles the Patriots have won since Robert Kraft purchased the team in 1994.
The number of consecutive seasons in which the Patriots have won nine or more games, a mark that represents the longest current streak in the NFL.
THE HEAD COACH
The number of years Bill Belichick has been an NFL coach, making him the longest tenured among the 32 head coaches.
The number of head coaches in the NFL or college who were assistant coaches under Belichick (Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Nick Saban, Charlie Weis, Kirk Ferentz, Pat Hill and Al Groh).
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 25 points or more.
Belichick's record in New England when the Patriots score 21 points or more.