The Kansas City Chiefs travel to Nashville for an AFC Showdown with the Tennessee Titans. Coming off of a last second win, things could not be more positive for Kansas City. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes will return to be the starter. After he suffered a dislocated kneecap just a few weeks ago, all looked lost for the rest of the Chiefs season. The team got the best news possible though. Also, the defense has been playing better and the players as a whole have rallied around each other. That is just one of the headlines to look forward to for Sunday’s game. Now, let’s get it started with our preview of Chiefs versus Titans.
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Based off of what Mahomes said to the media, this was the original return date based on the team’s plan for him. Now that he’s back, it will be interesting to see if he is restricted. How will the Chiefs protect him, especially against the Titans? I doubt Kansas City and Andy Reid will hold him back that much. But, this Tennessee defense thrives off of pressure. The Chiefs used seven blockers at times last week against the Vikings. That may be a wise thing to do again this game.
Besides blocking assignments, we could see some quick passes. Mahomes’ receiving core is the most healthy it has been all year for him. If the Chiefs can tire out the Titans defense by spreading the ball around, and stifling the pass rush, then Tennessee will be thrown off track.
Defensive lineman Chris Jones has dubbed the pass rush as “Sack Nation.” The sacks have really come to fruition over the last three weeks. Jones is back healthy now. Younger players like Tanoh Kpassagnon, Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders are continuing to improve. Meanwhile, Frank Clark could be back to the lineup soon. He has a chance to play Sunday. This is yet another facet of the game where the Chiefs are hitting their peak at the right time.
The Chiefs are entering this Titans matchup at the right time. That is because, no team is worse at stopping the pass rush than the Titans. Tennessee has given up the most sacks in the NFL so far this season (38). That equates to 4.2 sacks allowed per game. This offensive line can get beat by rushing both up the middle, or around the outside. If Ryan Tannehill struggles to get the ball out of his hands quickly, Kansas City could have a field day.
Legion of Zoom
Like we mentioned earlier, this is the healthiest the Chiefs skill players have been all year long. The Chiefs receivers will have a favorable matchup against the Titans on Sunday, as well. This secondary gives up plenty of big plays. Additionally, they are already banged up and have plenty of questions surrounding the rest of their personnel.
Cornerback Malcolm Butler recently suffered a broken wrist and won’t be active. Meanwhile, other corners like Logan Ryan and Adoree’ Jackson have struggled to find constant success. Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins have both regained success for themselves though, since returning from injury. If the Legion of Zoom can get back to what we saw them do last year, and before Mahomes got hurt, that’s not a good recipe for this wishy-washy Titans team.
While the passing attack has been up and down for the Titans, the running game has been a strength for a few years. Derrick Henry is not the easiest back to bring down either. He has the ability to surprise people with the speed he has in the open field. To boot, if Henry can get free into space, he is difficult to bring down. Where Henry seems to excel the most is when the Titans call stretch run plays. These plays also allow him to cutback in between the tackles. Thus, defenders get caught in traffic often.
While the Chiefs have stopped the run more effectively in recent play, this is an interesting matchup on Sunday. Henry has the ability to have a breakout game at any moment, regardless of how the rest of his team is playing. Look for the Chiefs to stack the box a lot more against the Titans, similar to when they faced the Broncos a few weeks ago. Finally, it will take all four quarters of good run defense in order to slow Henry down.
As we just talked about stopping Henry, it’s important to know just how well the Chiefs have stopped the run lately. In the last three games, they have allowed just 3.76 yards per carry. That is the eighth best mark during that span.
On the other hand, we also talked about the Titans offensive line issues. Kansas City has the most quarterback pressures in the last three games (69). The Chiefs have a chance to add a ton more against the Titans.
Also, Tannehill has a passer rating of just 40.8 when under pressure this year. That is the third lowest in the NFL.
Travis Kelce needs just 98 more yards to reach 6,000 for his career.
That will conclude our preview for Chiefs versus Titans. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.