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Mike Vrabel: It’s about the players, not my years in New England

The Titans throttled the Texans to take the final AFC playoff spot and now face a struggling Patriots team in the Wild Card round in New England.

No one needs to look too hard to find connections between the Titans and Patriots.

Titans running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Logan Ryan are among a handful of ex-Patriot players in Tennessee while Titans defensive coordinator Dean Pees used to have the same job on Bill Belichick’s staff. Titans General Manager Jon Robinson worked in the Patriots front office and their head coach Mike Vrabel won three Super Bowls with the team in the 2000s.

Vrabel played linebacker and caught the occasional touchdown from Tom Brady during his time in New England. Brady is the only active player who was around when Vrabel was in New England, which is why he downplayed the significance of his connections to Saturday’s opponent.

“I’m not going to be out there trying to pass rush Tom,” Vrabel said, via the Tennessean. “This is about the players and the preparation. This isn’t about my career, my eight years in New England. This is about the Titans and our preparation to go up there and face a team that’s won three Super Bowls in the last five years. They’re 8-0 at home [during the playoffs] in that span. They’ve got the No. 1 defense. They’ve got the best coach. They’ve got the best quarterback. So it’s quite a challenge.”

The Patriots’ last home loss in the playoffs came in the AFC title game after the 2012 season, so it’s a challenge that has proven to be too much for many teams over the years. That was the case for the Titans two years ago when Mike Mularkey was their coach and we’ll find out Saturday if Vrabel’s got the right formula for ending that streak.