Few things are indigestible to Bill Belichick as coach of the New England Patriots as facing former assistants and former players he was in charge of and this Sunday, he has a new challenge against Mike Vrabel, head coach of the Tennessee Titans.
Belichick is 15-16 in duels against coaches who were his assistants or players in his charge, and Vrabel can be considered, perhaps, as the most distinguished student, since the Titans coach is undefeated in the duels against your mentor.
Since taking the reins of the Titans in 2018, Vrabel has surpassed Belichick in the two games they have had, the most recent, the victory in the Wild Card Round of the Playoffs of the 2019 season, in which he was the last Tom Brady’s game of the era in New England that ended with an interception returned for a touchdown.
With one more victory on Sunday, Vrabel would record several decorations against his mentor: he would become one of two coaches (Dave Wannstedt) to beat Belichick in his first three meetings and in the fifth with three consecutive victories over the coach already in charge of the Patriots (since 2000) in regular season and Playoffs. The others are Tom Coughlin (2007-11), Tony Dungy (2005-06), Mike Shanahan (2005-06), and Wannstedt (2000-01).
Belichick’s losing streak against Wannstedt came when the latter was coach of the Miami Dolphins, even before the Patriots reached their first Super Bowl under Belichick and in what was only Brady’s second game as a starter. with New England.
Belichick and Vrabel are beginning to get used to playing relevant games after their first game in the Playoffs, as the clash between Patriots and Titans this Sunday is important in the playoff scene in the AFC.
According to ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI), the Titans currently have a 39 percent chance of winning the first seed in the AFC, followed by the Patriots with 16 percent.
If Tennessee won, his chances would increase to 66 percent to win the first seed of the conference and New England’s would drop to six percent, but if Belichick beat Vrabel for the first time as a strategist, the chances would be more even: Titans at 26 percent and the Patriots at 23.
The duel seems to be the ideal opportunity for Belichick to teach his former student a new lesson.
ESPN Stats & Information contributed to this report.