As we head toward Titans-Patriots, we'll do a bit of sharing with Boston Sports Journal, another independent site. Greg Bedard is the site's columnist/Patriots analyst, editor and owner.

By GREG BEDARD

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Hello there, Titans fans. It almost feels like y'all are cousins considering all the connections between the two teams, so Patriots fans are looking forward to this week's family reunion — but with some trepidation. Yes, we know all about what the Titans have done since replacing Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehill, but Patriots fans have a long history with Tanny and that will bring a little confidence. Here are 10 things you need to know — a state of the team, if you will — about these Patriots heading into Saturday night's showdown.

1. These aren't the Patriots you're used to: New England's teams in the past have been known to get off to slow starts but gradually build through the course of the season to the point that they're humming heading into the postseason. That is not the case this year. After starting 8-0 against what turned out to be the league's weakest schedule, the Patriots have gone just 4-4, and beaten only two teams — the Bills (10-6) and Eagles (9-7) — with winning records.

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Now, that being said, the Patriots were worse in many ways last season — they were just 3-5 on the road and lost back-to-back games to non-playoff teams in the Steelers and Dolphins in December — and the Patriots still went on to win the Super Bowl.

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