Who’s No. 1? AFC top seed on line as Patriots welcome Titans

The No. 1 seed in the AFC is up for grabs Sunday as the leading Tennessee Titans visit the surging New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.Tennessee (8-3) suffered a shocking 22-13 home loss to the Houston Texans last week, snapping its six-game winning streak. Now the Titans will try to hold off a Patriots team that has won five straight and sits one game behind them atop the conference standings.New England (7-4) enjoyed an extended break after a 25-0 thumping of the Atlanta Falcons on the road last Thursday. A win on Sunday, coupled with a loss by the 7-3 Ravens versus Cleveland on Sunday night, would thrust the Patriots into the top spot in the AFC via tiebreaker.Patriots coach Bill Belichick knows first hand how hard wins are to come by against the team coached by his former star linebacker.”They’re a typical Mike (Vrabel) team,” Belichick said. “They’re tough. They’re physical. They make you beat them. They don’t make many mistakes.”The Vrabel-led Titans dealt Belichick’s Patriots a 20-13 playoff loss in Tom Brady’s final game as a Patriot two seasons ago in the wild-card round on Jan. 4, 2020 in Foxborough.Vrabel, who played eight seasons and won three Super Bowls with New England under Belichick from 2001 to 2008, also beat his former coach 34-10 at home in Week 10 of his debut season on the sidelines in 2018.Vrabel doesn’t expect a third victory over Belichick’s team to come easily.”They are not turning it over, they are not doing things to beat themselves. Obviously they have done a great job of taking advantage of bad football,” Vrabel said. “(They are) well-coached, they are running the football, they are playing physical. It will be a huge challenge.”Last Thursday versus Atlanta, the Patriots only scored one offensive touchdown — a 19-yard pass from rookie Mac Jones to Nelson Agholor — and had a dominant showing on defense that included a 35-yard pick-six by Kyle Van Noy.Jones finished 22-of-26 for 207 yards, one touchdown and an interception. Fellow rookie Rhamondre Stevenson rushed for a team-high 69 yards and veteran Damien Harris picked up 56 yards on the ground, where New England outgained Atlanta 134-40.