The Tennessee Titans, by the slimmest of margins, did enough to limp into the playoffs. All you need is a seat at the table to have a chance, and the Titans did manage to accomplish that. They will need to pull an upset as 9-point underdogs to make it further, though. As hot and cold as the Chiefs have been this season, this isn’t a lock by any means for the Chiefs.
The last time KC won a home playoff game was in 1994, 24 years ago. Things have changed a bit since then. It was a wild ride for the Chiefs this year. They started off a perfect 5-0 and didn’t regain their traction until December. What should have been a run away, turned pretty interesting as the door was open for the Raiders and Chargers. However, the Chiefs found a rhythm again and ultimately finished with a record of 10-6 and the AFC West.
The Titans lost three of their last four games and needed a win over the Jaguars and help in the final week. Both came true, but they certainly haven’t looked like a playoff ready team. Marcus Mariota must have the game of his life at Arrowhead to get the win for the Titans. They’ve had a strong running game with Derrick Henry, and the defense has bailed them out constantly this year.
Mariota, it’s your turn to pull the wagon and be the quarterback you were drafted to be. Knee injuries have derailed the careers of several quarterbacks. If he doesn’t respond in the playoffs and into next season, it’s going to start to get difficult to defend him. He threw 26 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, along with 349 yards in 2016. Those numbers slipped to 13 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, and 312 rushing yards in 2017.
It’s also been reported that Mariota has been playing with a sprained knee this season. For a quarterback whose arsenal includes running the football, knee injuries can absolutely ruin a career. We aren’t at the point of RGIII, but he is one hit or misstep away from the unemployment line. The defense has been terrific for the Titans this season, and must be again in this Wild Card showdown against the Chiefs at Arrowhead. Head below for our free Titans vs. Chiefs pick in the Wild Card Round of the NFL Playoffs.
Tennessee Titans vs. K.C. Chiefs Betting Odds:
vs. Chiefs -8.5(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Titans vs. Chiefs Pick:
The Chiefs have gone through lulls this season. They lost four in a row, including losses to the Giants and Jets. The Titans are hoping that they get that version of the Chiefs on Saturday. The Chiefs are heading into Saturday with four wins in a row. During the four-game winning streak, the Chiefs flipped the switch on offense, as they averaged 28 points per game. The defense also had a breakthrough for the Chiefs. They held the opposition to 13.25 points per game. The Chiefs did give up some yardage this season overall, with 365.1 yards per game, but allowed only 21.2 points per game. Look for the Arrowhead crowd to help the Kansas City defense out considerably in this one.
At home in 2017, the Chiefs allowed 16.87 points per game, including just 9.6 points allowed in their last three games of the regular season at Arrowhead. I expect their defensive unit to get after it against the Titans, and most notably, Mariota is going to struggle in this environment. He hasn’t shown that he can compete in most environments this season, let alone a playoff game at Arrowhead. On the road this season, Mariota has struggled mightily. He has passed for just 5 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His quarterback is an abysmal 69.1. I fail to see how he looks better in this spot. Among starting quarterbacks in the playoffs, he owns the lowest QB rating.
For the Titans to have a chance, their defense must pitch a perfect game. They’ve been stout, particularly against the run where they’ve allowed just 88.8 yards per game for 4th in the NFL. Kareem Hunt will look to exploit their defense on Saturday. The rookie had his coming out party in September in Week 1 against the Patriots. He ultimately finished with 1,327 yards and 8 touchdowns on the ground. Hunt also had 455 yards and 3 touchdowns receiving. The Chiefs may find it difficult to go deep against a defense who were the only in the league to allow less than ten passes of more than 40 yards. On deep ball attempts from opposing quarterbacks, the Titans’ defense was 2nd, allowing a QB rating of only 42.1. The Chiefs should still win, but I don’t expect them to blow up the scoreboard. Neither should the Titans with Mariota in a hostile environment. We should get a final score that falls UNDER the total.
PICK: UNDER 44.5 (-110)