January 8, 2018 / 2:09 AM / a year ago

Patriots open title defense against Titans

(Reuters) - The New England Patriots begin their quest for a third Super Bowl title in four seasons on Saturday when they meet the Tennessee Titans in the NFL playoffs.

Champions in the 2014 and 2016 seasons, the Patriots (13-3) are aiming for a sixth Super Bowl title, all with the now 40-year-old Tom Brady at quarterback.

They will be big favorites in the American Football Conference (AFC) divisional round having won their last six meetings with the Titans, including a 2015 game.

Tennessee (10-7), who have not won in New England since 1993, advanced to Saturday’s game with a 22-21 wildcard victory over the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs.

The top team in the National Football Conference, the Philadelphia Eagles, host the Atlanta Falcons (11-6) on Saturday.

Atlanta, who blew a 25-point lead in an overtime loss to New England in last year’s Super Bowl, scored a 26-13 wildcard victory over the NFC West champion Los Angeles Rams.

The Eagles, who won the NFC East with a 13-3 record but are missing injured quarterback Carson Wentz, hold an 18-14-1 all-time mark against the Falcons, with the last win coming in 2016.

Divisional round games continue on Sunday with the AFC North champion Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3), who like the Patriots and Eagles had a first-round bye, hosting AFC South winner Jacksonville Jaguars (11-6).

NFC North winner Minnesota Vikings (13-3) face NFC South champion New Orleans Saints (12-5).

Jacksonville, who beat the Buffalo Bills 10-3 to set up a meeting with the Steelers, enjoy a surprising 13-11 all-time record over Pittsburgh, including a 30-9 victory in October.

New Orleans held off the Carolina Panthers for the third time this season on Sunday, winning 31-26.

The Vikings are 21-11 all-time against the Saints including a 29-19 regular season victory in September

Next weekend’s divisional winners will meet on Jan. 21 for Conference titles with the victors playing for the Super Bowl on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.

The schedule:

Saturday, January 13

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles in NFC divisional round game (2135 GMT/4:35 PM ET)

Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots in AFC divisional round game (0115 GMT/8:15 PM ET)

Sunday, January 14

Jacksonville Jaguars at Pittsburgh Steelers in AFC divisional round game (1805 GMT/1:05 PM ET)

New Orleans Saints at Minnesota Vikings in NFC divisional round game (2140 GMT/4:40 PM ET)

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Wilson, North Carolina; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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