There are a lot of connection between the New England Patriots and the Tennessee Titans but none comes with as much intrigue as the one with cornerback Malcolm Butler.


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The story is well known: an undrafted rookie Antonio Garcia Jersey Black Friday , Butler became an instant star when he made the game-winning interception in Super Bowl 49. However, his tenure in New England ended in controversial fashion, with him getting benched for Super Bowl 52.Butler left the Patriots after the title game and now is a starting cornerback in Tennessee. However, his performance has not been up to the same standards he set over his three years (minus one game) as a starter in New England: the 28-year old gave up 39 catches so far this season for 618 yards and seven touchdowns. “I shudder to think about what Josh Gordon will do to him,” Jimmy Morris said about Butler.Leading up to today’s game with spoke with Jimmy, who is covering the Titans as editor-in-chief for our sister site Music City Miracles, about the matchup between the Patriots offense and Tennessee’s defense — and safe to say that Butler has been a weak link for a unit that has its undeniable strengths but has struggled when it comes to defending chunk plays this season: “Their biggest weakness, without question, has been big plays.”“Malcolm Butler has been the biggest victim,” Jimmy said about the embattled former Patriot who signed a five-year, $61.3 million contract with $30 million in guarantees this offseason. “We are all terrified that Bill Belichick is going to go after Butler early and often in this game to prove why Butler wasn’t on the field in the Super Bowl. He has been burnt by guys like Jordan Matthews and Allen Hurns already this year.”But while Butler and the Titans have had some issues when it comes to preventing big plays this season, the team still has a very good defense in other aspects. “They have been really good in the red zone,” Jimmy said about the NFL’s number one scoring defense — one that leads the league with just 16.8 points given up per game. “[The red zone defense] has been the biggest thing that has them atop the scoring rankings.”As already mentioned in this week’s advanced stats breakdown, red zone performance might be the key to the game for the Patriots. “They have given up yards, but they have really #Titanup’d (pun intended) when teams get inside the 20 yard line Josh Gordon Jersey ,” Jimmy noted. “I am interested to see if they can keep that up. It’s pretty easy to be good in the red zone against guys like Blake Bortles. It is a whole different story when facing Tom Brady.”In order for the Titans to stop Brady and company, a former Patriot defender will need to bring his A-game today: cornerback Logan Ryan. While not the same household name as Butler, Ryan is in the middle of a solid second season in Tennessee. “He isn’t an elite cornerback, but he has been a very consistent performer week in and week out for this defense,” Jimmy noted about the former Patriots third-round pick.“He was mainly playing as the nickel corner early in the year, but he plays outside in the base defense now because Butler has been so terrible,” he continued. Ryan and Butler are not the only defensive backs to watch today, though. “[A] guy you need to know about is All-Pro safety Kevin Byard,” Jimmy said. “He has been in this news this week after his interception and celebration on the star in Dallas Monday night. He has a lot of range on the backend of this Titans defense.”The Titans’ star players do not all line up in the secondary, however: the front seven also features some serious talent — led by standout Jurrell Casey. “Casey is the guy that creates the pressure up front,” Jimmy said about the defensive tackle. “He would be a perennial All-Pro if he played for the Patriots, but he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves because he has spent his career with the Titans playing on mainly bad teams.”“You can believe that Belichick and Josh McDaniels have spent a lot of time this week talking about him,” Jimmy continued. Another player he pointed out is ex-Boston College standout Harold Landry, who was drafted by the Titans in the second round this year and plays as an outside linebacker for the team. “Landry has shown some flashes of being really special with his elite speed and bend off the edge.”“Having a guy like Landry out there has opened things up for Casey on the inside because teams have to plan for him coming around the edge,” Jimmy pointed out. “Landry will get better as he gets more experience at the NFL level.” And while the rookie will face a big challenge going against the Patriots’ high-quality offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon Troy Niklas Jersey Black Friday , Casey might pose a different challenge.After all, New England will be without starting right guard Shaq Mason today. And while replacement Ted Karras is a solid player, seeing him go up against Casey is a mismatch in the Titans’ favor. Ultimately, the talented defensive tackle and his colleagues in the front seven will try their best to cover any potential shortcomings Butler and the Tennessee secondary might have against New England’s receiving groups. CHICAGO (AP) — Tom Brady held his breath as he watched the final play unfold from the sideline.He saw Mitchell Trubisky heave the ball toward the goal line, Kevin White haul it in and a swarming defense keep the ball out of the end zone. That was just enough to preserve another victory for New England.Brady threw for three touchdowns and the Patriots hung on to beat the Chicago Bears 38-31 Sunday when White got stopped at the 1 on a 54-yard pass from Trubisky.About four or five defenders swarmed White after he leaped to haul in that long heave and spun toward the goal line. Some Bears players tried to push him across. But he got stopped just short of the goal line, sealing the fourth straight win for New England.“You hold your breath when I saw him jump up and catch it,” Brady said. “I didn’t have the angle on the goal line. He was getting close to the end zone. They were pushing and we were pushing. It was probably a half yard or a yard, pretty close. Good for us to hold them out.”Even if the execution wasn’t perfect.“Just too many people around the ball,” said Josh Gordon, who was in on the play. “I went up to grab it. Somebody else went up to grab it. There was pushing and pulling, everything like that. He ended up with it so it was a great play. … Fortunately enough, we were able to hold him out of the end zone.”As for White?“Just tried to fight and get in,” he said. “Tried to change the game, make a big-time play. So after I caught it, I thought I had a chance , like I said, for a split-second and once I felt a bunch of guys I knew it was over.”The Patriots (5-2) also got two special teams touchdowns and came out on top even though they were without Rob Gronkowski.The five-time Pro Bowl tight end missed the game because of ankle and back injuries. But New England squeezed past the Bears (3-3).UNBEATEN AGAINST BEARSBrady improved to 5-0 against Chicago, one of five teams yet to beat him. He was 25 of 36 for 277 yards and an interception.Cordarrelle Patterson ran a kickoff back 95 yards for his sixth career return TD. Kyle Van Noy became the first New England player in 22 years to return a blocked punt for a touchdown.Gordon caught four passes for 100 yards. He spun past a tackler on a 55-yarder early in the fourth that put the ball on the 1 and set up a 2-yard reception by James White to make it 38-24 with 8:40 left.White had 57 yards receiving and two TDs. He also ran for a team-high 40 yards.Julian Edelman had a touchdown catch. Rookie running back Sony Michel left in the second quarter because of a knee injury. But the Patriots beat the Bears for the eighth time in nine games since the 1985 team got routed in the Super Bowl.CONSECUTIVE LOSSESChicago has dropped two in a row after winning three straight to take sole possession of the NFC North lead for the first time since 2013. The Bears’ three losses are by a combined 11 points.“Coming up 1 yard short and not tying the game and going to overtime, that’s not good enough anymore,” Trubisky said.Star pass rusher Khalil Mack was largely a non-factor after being listed as questionable because of an ankle injury he suffered last week at Miami, often dropping back in pass coverage. And Trubisky struggled with his accuracy, though coach Matt Nagy didn’t quite see it that way.“A lot of people were out of rhythm,” he said.The second-year pro completed 26 of 50 passes for 333 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for a career-high 81 yards and a score.Trey Burton had nine receptions for a career-high 126 yards, including an 11-yard TD with 4:13 remaining.BLOCK, RETURNVan Noy is the first New England player to return a blocked punt for a TD since Tedy Bruschi against Baltimore in 1996.He scooped up the ball and returned it 29 yards after Dont’a Hightower blocked Pat O’Donnell’s attempt, giving the Patriots a 31-24 lead with just under six minutes left in the third.It was also the first blocked punt return for a TD against Chicago since the New York Giants’ Tom Flynn recovered one in the end zone on Sept. 14, 1987.NATIONAL ANTHEMThere were no protests by either team.INJURIESPatriots: Michel had to be helped off the field after he got twisted around by Bilal Nichols as he was tackled on the first play of the second quarter. He lost a fumble on the play and needed assistance to get to the sideline. In the previous three games, Michel rushed for 316 yards and four touchdowns.UP NEXTPatriots: Visit Buffalo on Oct. 29.Bears: Host the New York Jets on Oct. 28.
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