“Straight Outta Na$hville”

AFC Game Of The Week

Kansas City Chiefs at Tennessee Titans

Chiefs: Last week was a huge win for them. It makes a difference when you’re 6-3 and three games over .500 rather than be 5-4 then only be a game up in the division. That’s exactly what would’ve happened had they lost in week nine. When Mahomes went down, I originally said their offense would be like how they ran things when Alex Smith was their quarterback. They have along with opening the playbook. In the two games without their MVP, I have liked what I’ve seen from them. The game against the Green Bay Packers, they had a good chance to win it and were in it for a while. They just ended up running out of gas. Last week against the Vikings, they were able to hold it together to prevail for the victory. For the Chiefs to be successful, it’s all on that offense which is the honest but sad truth. Their defense shows you flashes here and there of potential, but the facts are just too much to overlook. Despite the record they have along with being in the driver’s seat in the AFC West, the defense has just struggled too much to be called elite at this point. They’ve allowed 28 or more points five times this season alone. They’re ranked 18th in points allowed (22.4) which is cushioned by poor offensive performances from the Raiders (ten points) and Broncos (six points). Without those two, the Chiefs would be giving up 27.5 points per contest. This is what’s keeping them from advancing out of the AFC. To stay on track, they’ll make a pit stop in Nashville.

Titans: Sometimes a change is needed. Coming into this year, I said this was a make or break season for Marcus Mariota. He really hasn’t been the quarterback they were expecting him to be when he was selected first overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. In the games Marcus started this year, the Titans offense was flat averaging 16 points per game. Head coach Mike Vrabel had to make the decision to bench him. I couldn’t agree with his choice anymore. Ryan Tannehill has come in and elevated this team. Yes, the Ryan Tannehill who was a starter for the Miami Dolphins (he got out at the right time). A new starting quarterback can give you a spark which he has. In the games he’s started, the Titans offense has averaged 21 points a game. Tennessee has also gone 2-1 in his three starts with wins over Tampa Bay and the Chargers before falling to the Carolina Panthers last week. There’s been a few bright spots for them this year. The first has been Derrick Henry. He’s been strong all year with 644 yards rushing and six touchdowns. The second has been A.J. Brown who’s really emerged onto the scene as a young receiver with a lot of potential. Lastly, the defense has been a top ten unit. They’re stingy allowing 18 points a game and they’re fifth in the NFL with nine interceptions. There’s nothing more they would want then to get a win against one of the AFC’s elite teams.

Chiefs Player to Watch: Chris Jones– He’s their best defensive player by far. He came back last week against the Vikings and made an immediate impact. Without him, they struggle to rush the passer. With him, they did a much better job at applying pressure on the quarterback. It makes a big difference when you have key players on the field. That’s exactly what he is.

Titans Player to Watch: Rashaan Evans– He’s really developed into a nice linebacker at the next level. He’s their man in the middle. He mirrors running backs, then gets through the lanes to stop the run so that’s also known as reading then reacting. I remember his days in college playing for Nick Saban at Alabama. Now, he’s at the next level emerging as a leader for the Titans defense.

Final Analysis: It looks as if Patrick Mahomes will return to action in this one after missing the last two games with a knee injury. These are two different teams in styles. The Chiefs are fast, they like to spread their receivers out, create in space, etc. The Titans are a team that likes to slow the game down. They rely heavily on running the football and playing physical defense. Tennessee needs to attack this Chiefs defense early and often. I think they’ll get their points. It’s not difficult to do that on this defense. The Chiefs are even scarier when they have their running game going. That won’t be easy to do on the Titans this Sunday. How healthy is Mahomes? It wouldn’t hurt to let Matt Moore start one more game.

Prediction: Chiefs 29 Titans 27

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