Quarterback Tom Brady threw for 5,235 yards with 39 touchdowns against 12 interceptions last season. (AP Images)

Patriots vs. Titans -- Week 1

Where: LP Stadium, Nashville (natural grass, outdoors)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m. ET (CBS)

Spread: Patriots by 5.5

Forecast: Sunny; projected kickoff temperature is 76 degrees.

2011 records -- Patriots (13-3); Titans (7-9)

Past results: Two most recent meetings -- Oct. 18, 2009: Patriots 59, Titans 0; Dec. 31, 2006: Patriots 40, Titans 23. Series record: Patriots hold a 22-16-1 edge.

What matters: A lot has changed since the last time these two teams took the field against each other, with many of the chief participants now somewhere else. In 2009, the Patriots were still dependent on Randy Moss and succeeded with a vertical passing game. TEs Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez have since replaced Moss, transforming New England into more of a horizontal team. But the Patriots' offense is a given. Sunday will provide the first look of the revamped front seven, including the debuts of DE Chandler Jones and LB Dont'a Hightower, both of whom were selected in the first round of April's draft. We will also get our first glimpse of Steve Gregory, who was signed during the offseason to close the revolving door at safety.

Who matters: WR Brandon Lloyd only made one catch during the preseason and said his chemistry with Tom Brady is still building. The two need to get on the same page before things become frustrating. CB Devin McCourty was targeted for more than 1,000 yards last season and is looking to get back his rookie form, where he was a Pro Bowl selection. The Titans' passing attack should not provide any overwhelming challenges for McCourty, especially with Kenny Britt serving a suspension, but a solid performance would help stabilize his shaky confidence.

Key matchups: The Patriots have spent the week trying to find ways to slow RB Chris Johnson and keep QB Jake Locker in the pocket. The plan is to bring the house to the point of attack to limit Johnson's ability to cut back and to set a strong edge against Locker. It could be a long day for the defensive ends and outside linebackers if they fail.

Injuries of note: RB Shane Vereen suffered a foot injury in the preseason and did not practice Wednesday or Thursday.

Inside stuff: The Patriots struggled to identify a kick returner during the preseason. They averaged 21.4 yards return last season, which could give the Titans an advantage in field position.

Connections: Titans CB Jason McCourty and Patriots CB Devin McCourty are twins. They played together at Rutgers University. Patriots LB Mike Rivera spent 2009 on the Titans practice squad and remained with the team through the first week of the 2010 season.

Stat you should know: Washington's Roy Helu (126 yards, Week 14) and Miami's Reggie Bush (113 yards, Week 16) were the only players to run for more than 100 yards against New England last season.

Bulletin board quote: "I only have one brother this week," Jason McCourty, in reference to his brother, Devin McCourty. They have a third brother, Larry, who is 16 years older.

Looking ahead: This is one of the tougher portions of the Patriots' otherwise soft schedule. They host Arizona before going on the road against Baltimore and Buffalo. A loss against the Titans could put New England in danger of being .500 by Week 4.

Prediction: Patriots 27, Titans 20

Nick Underhill covers the Patriots for MassLive.com. Follow him on Twitter @CBSSportsNFLNE or @nick_underhill.