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Will the student become the master?
It's a homecoming of sorts for Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel on Saturday. As a player, he donned the New England Patriots uniform for head coach Bill Belichik from 2001 to 2008 as a sharp-minded starting linebacker who contributed to three Super Bowl championships. But he'll now face his mentor in a playoff game in Foxborough, Massachusetts, on Saturday evening when the Titans and Patriots clash at 8:15 p.m. E.T. on CBS.
It certainly makes for a good narrative. But while there may be more important things — like Tennessee's scorching red zone offense going up against New England's stalwart red zone defense — that will actually sway the outcome of the game, as opposed to whether Vrabel can use his Patriot past to unlock some secret code that could end the NFL's greatest dynasty once and for all, there has been a recent small sampling that lends some credence to the theory that Belichik struggles against some branches of his coaching tree.
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One of those losses includes a 34-10 stinker last season against the Titans, whose defense is also led by former New England assistant Dean Pees. Of course, the teams are completely different from what they were more than a year later, and New England wound up getting the last laugh anyway by winning their sixth title over the last two decades. But it's possible Vrabel and the Titans do have New England's number. Belichik will surely have some tricks up his cut-off hoodie sleeves that could revive the struggling Patriots, but don't expect Tennessee to go away quietly.
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