FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Maybe the Tennessee Titans are coming up for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots at the perfect time.
After a drama-filled week , the quarterback says his focus remains solely on football as his team prepares to host the Titans in Saturday's divisional round.
During Brady's tenure the Patriots are 6-1 against the Titans. He has 13 passing touchdowns and one interception in those games — his best touchdown to interception ratio against any opponent in his career.
He also is 6-0 against Mike Mularkey-coached teams.
But that hasn't changed the approach for Brady, who is preparing for his 35th playoff start in the aftermath of recent reports suggesting discord between himself, coach Bill Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft.
In a joint statement last week, all three men brushed aside any insinuation of strife at the top of one of the NFL's jewel franchises. Brady reiterated on Thursday that his mind remains on the field.
"We do what we always do. We show up to work and try to do the best we can do," he said. "We know there's a lot at stake and I think everyone's put a lot into it. It doesn't really matter what happened outside of this facility."
Patriots receiver Danny Amendola hasn't noticed any change in Brady.
"He's the ultimate professional and he (makes) his teammates better and he demands a lot," Amendola said. "We all want to win for him, and we all want to play hard for him."
Tennessee recognizes the challenge it faces against Brady. It opened the week as a 13-point underdog, and prior to last week hadn't won a playoff game since the 2003 season.
That doesn't mean the Titans fear the Patriots.
"It's a playoff game, so it's not like it's the preseason where I can go out there, 'Oh, it's Brady,' and I'm chillin,'" Tennessee All-Pro safety Kevin Byard said. "This is a playoff game. So I don't really care if it was Joe Montana. You know what I'm saying? I'm trying to go out there and win the game. I want to make him look like (Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback) Blake Bortles if I can to try to catch a couple picks.
"Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but it's a playoff game. I'm not really looking at it like that."
The contrast in quarterbacks will be stark.
At age 40, Brady is the oldest remaining quarterback in the playoffs. The Titans have the youngest in 24-year-old Marcus Mariota. The 16-year age gap between them is the largest between starting quarterbacks in a playoff game in NFL history.
Since 2001, quarterbacks making their first or second career playoff start are 0-7 against New England.
"I think it just comes down to how well you play," Brady said. "At the end of the day, it's not about old guys are going to win or young guys are going to win, the home team, the road team. It's really going to come down to execution. No one's going to be able to do it for you."
If the Titans have any hope of slowing down Brady, the X factor might be defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.
With Belichick as head coach, he and LeBeau have faced off in the playoffs once: the 2004 AFC championship game that New England won in Pittsburgh, 41-27.
Brady had two touchdown passes in that game, but was also sacked twice.
"The one thing you got to try to do is not let him read you like a book, which he's very adept at," LeBeau said. "Whether you're pressuring or whether you're going coverage, if he knows where you're going, he's probably going to be pretty effective."
Brady isn't taking anything for granted.
"These are fun games to play in," he said. "You're out there, you're in the position to succeed. Your coaches have put a lot on you. The team's really relying on you. You've got to go out there and make the plays."
Ajayi ready to give Eagles a ride on Jay Train vs. Falcons
PHILADELPHIA — Jay Ajayi is rested, refreshed and ready.
The Philadelphia Eagles can jump aboard the Jay Train when they host Atlanta in an NFC divisional playoff Saturday and try to ride Ajayi to the conference title game.
Ajayi will see his first action in 19 days when he lines up against the Falcons (11-6). He sat out the final game before enjoying his third bye week of the season — one with Miami and two with Philadelphia (13-3).
"I feel really good, like, I feel really good," said Ajayi, who has been bothered by knee issues. "No. 1 seed team with an opportunity to go get a Super Bowl. I'm grateful, I'm blessed, I'm excited for this opportunity because it's all in front of us and if we really take advantage of what we want to do and execute how we can, we can get it done."
Two weeks before he joined the Eagles, Ajayi ran for 130 yards in Miami's 20-17 win over Atlanta on Oct. 15. He hasn't carried the ball as much in Philadelphia, but he might have to be a workhorse this week.
"Same guys. My mentality hasn't changed," Ajayi said. "My mindset is always downhill, attacking, try to punish guys. One-on-one, it's all about not being tackled."
Ajayi was the main man in Miami, averaging 20 carries per game. He had 465 yards rushing, an average of 3.4 yards and no touchdowns. Last year, Ajayi went to the Pro Bowl after running for 1,272 yards, including three 200-yard games.
After coming to Philly, he adjusted to being part of a rotation. Ajayi shared the backfield with LeGarrette Blount and Corey Cement and didn't get more than 15 carries in any game following the trade.
Ajayi finished with 408 yards rushing, one touchdown and an average of 5.8 yards per carry in seven games for the Eagles. Blount led the team with 766 yards rushing and Clement had 321.
The offense sputtered in the last two games with Nick Foles at quarterback. Relying on Ajayi's running can help take pressure off Foles.
"I'm excited. I'm already a round further than I've been in my career," said Ajayi, who had 33 yards rushing in a wild-card loss to Pittsburgh last year. "For the guys who've been to the playoffs and lost, those memories of getting bounced should definitely fuel you. You should have that chip, want to get there and want to bring it home and that starts this Saturday."
The Eagles are the first No. 1 seed to be an underdog in their first playoff game. The sixth-seeded Falcons are 3-point favorites.
— Rob Maddi, The Associated Press