NFL Wild Card Game Preview: Titans at Chiefs

Gridiron Experts Staff Wild Card Preview

Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs -7.5 | O/U: 44.5

Mike Rigz

Mike Rigz   –  The Chiefs, in my opinion, are the sleeper dark horse of the AFC. After starting the season 5-0, the wheels came off mid-season, winning just one of their next six games. However, the team regrouped and finished the season strong winning four straight. Home field advantage is a significant factor in this contest for me, the Chiefs are 6-2 at home, and the Titans were 3-5 on the road. The Titans have struggled on offense and are likely without the services of DeMarco Murray. I expect the Chiefs to win and cover. Pick: Chiefs


Andrew Erickson   – Does anybody really know how the Titans made the playoffs this year? With a -22 scoring differential this season, it is hard to get excited about these Titans. 3-5 on the road this year and facing a Chiefs team that is on a four-game winning streak, this seems like a no-brainer. The Chiefs have too many weapons on offensive for the Titans to stop them, and unless Derrick Henry gets going, this game could be a blowout. Pick: Chiefs


Michael Hauff  – With just one playoff win in 10 tries dating back to 1994, the Kansas City Chiefs may have the most pressure of any wild card team this weekend. No matter what the Chiefs playoff history may show though, it is hard to rule out this talented of a team. Bookending their 2017 season with strong play, the Chiefs will be led by the leagues leading rusher in Kareem Hunt and a quarterback in Alex Smith that had a career-high 26 touchdown passes this season. Opposing them is a Titans team that despite making the playoffs have performed below expectations. Marcus Mariota has been one of the Titans biggest disappointments in 2017 and his 11 interceptions on the road is proof of that. Given their lack of firepower and being 25th in the league in third-down conversions, I find it hard to believe that the Titans will be able to keep up with the Chiefs. With all of that in mind, I will go with Chiefs to cover the spread on Saturday. Pick: Chiefs

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Brad Castronovo   –  The Titans squeaked into the playoffs by the slimmest of margins, dropping 3 consecutive games before knocking off the Jaguars and clinching their first playoff bid since 2008. While the media consensus seems to favor the Chiefs in a blowout, I say “not so fast.” There are a few slivers of hope for the young Titans team. To have a chance, the Titans will have to stop Kareem Hunt. Tennessee has allowed the 4th fewest rushing yards per game in the NFL this year (88.8), ceding a league-low 5 touchdowns in the 2017 season. If they perform to their potential, I think that they can accomplish their object in this regard. If they’re able to shut down Hunt, then they’ll force Alex Smith to beat them– and he just might.

Marcus MariotaThe reason for Tennessee optimism, in my opinion, comes from the inefficiency of the Kansas City Defense. The Chiefs D allowed the 5th most total yardage in the NFL (365 ypg), yielding the 4th most passing ypg (247 ypg) and 8th most rushing ypg (118 ypg.) If Marcus Mariota and Derek Henry use their legs to the best of their ability, Mariota is able to utilize his play-action passing repertoire, and the Defense can force a few turnovers, the Titans might be able to hang with the Chiefs in this one. Listen, I’m not crazy. I’m keenly aware that the Chiefs are the better team, but I’m rolling the dice, taking Tennessee, and betting the over. Pick: Titans


Graham Hackney   –  I fully expect the Chiefs to be watching their division rivals, the Jaguars, on Sunday hoping they win to ensure the Chiefs avoid the Steelers. They are one of the only teams in the entire league who would actively choose to face the Patriots given the choice available. This victory is not a done deal, however. The Titans, buoyed by their victory against Jacksonville last weekend, will hope to face the Alex Smith who has frozen in playoffs before (not the Alex Smith who led the 49ers to conquer the Saints in the early 2012 divisional game). One thing that could well happen, if the Chiefs are down in the fourth quarter, is the introduction of Patrick Mahomes. He is someone who can do something different, and there is very little NFL game film on him for the Titans to plan against. But my prediction is that Tyreek Hill and Kareem Hunt will be too much for the Titans to handle. Pick: Chiefs


Jason Willan   – The Chiefs started the season 5-0, including wins over New England and Philadelphia, the top-seeded playoff teams in each conference. At one point this year, the Titans won six of seven games and looked poised to challenge Jacksonville for the AFC South title. However, neither of these teams has looked quite as strong over the last month and both have defensive deficiencies, particularly against the pass. At the end of the day, though, Kansas City has more weapons on offense and I think home field advantage goes a long way toward carrying the Chiefs to a 30-17 victory. Pick: Chiefs

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