Yesterday, we explored the upcoming matchup of the Kansas City Chiefs defense going up against the Tennessee Titans offense. We flip the script today. The Chiefs offense exploded for 51 points in the Divisional Round. This is despite early drops and lapses. Meanwhile, the Titans defense just held the top scoring offense to just 12 points last week. There is plenty of respect that each unit has for each other. Let’s take a deeper look into this matchup with the Kansas City offense going up versus the Tennessee defense.
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Who Gains Upper Hand?
Once the Chiefs got rolling offensively last week, everything seemed to be working. Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins found many easy catches in the open spots against zone coverage. In particular, Kelce was getting stronger as the game wore on. Even against good pass coverage, he would break tackles and pick up additional yards. Damien Williams found some wiggle room with the running game. Most of all, Patrick Mahomes was flawless. His anticipation and ball placement was pin point. Also, his accuracy was perfect. Most of Mahomes incompletions were actually dropped passes. It also helped that he was able to extend plays with his legs and there were no sacks allowed.
On the other hand, the Tennessee defense feels confident. They have no problem in altering their game plan week to week. Against the Patriots, they forced the opponent to beat them on the outside of the field and over the top. They did a great job of corralling Lamar Jackson in the ensuing game. Jackson was forced to move laterally, and he succumbed to pressure. The Ravens still gained a good chunk of yards. But they failed to score.
Kansas City’s offense knows that Tennessee’s defense will bring the pressure with Harold Landry, Jurrell Casey, Jeffery Simmons and others. They are determined tacklers and have a lot of pride. They won’t back down against a high flying offense like the Chiefs. As long as Kansas City can continue to score touchdowns and at a rapid pace, they will be fine against Tennessee.
Slowing Them Down
The Titans will be hopeful to continue their success with pressure. In both playoff wins, they had plenty of positives in this area. We mentioned that Mahomes was not sacked last week. In fact, he looked fairly comfortable all game long. That was not the case the first time these two teams met this year. When Kansas City and Tennessee met in November, it was Mahomes first game back from injury. His numbers were pretty impressive. However, there was still some hesitation at times, that we do not usually see from him.
The Chiefs cannot count out the possibility of the Titans running multiple fronts and stunt blitzes. Dean Pees will likely look to attack the KC front from the interior. Additionally, there are times where Mahomes can hold onto the ball longer than other times. It is important to know that the Chiefs are 8-0 this year when Eric Fisher is in the lineup. But as essential as Fisher is for Kansas City, Tennessee should know there are opportunities to best him.
One of the lesser known defensive back groups, is the Tennessee secondary. Kevin Byard is an interception machine at safety, and even had one early in last week’s contest. Deion Sanders struggled to once know who Byard was on one of his shows. Does he know him know? Elsewhere, Adoree’ Jackson has taken some large strides this season. His ability to close on routes is starting to emerge. Also, Jackson has speed to keep up with the faster receivers. Former Patriot Logan Ryan is still stingy as well. They will have a big task on their hands on Sunday. Yet again, Kansas City must be aware of the determination that Tennessee will bring to the table.
What made the Chiefs even more dangerous last week? Just when the Texans figured out how to double team Kelce or Hill, Mahomes took off for long yardage runs. Andy Reid will more than likely have some tricks up his sleeve for this AFC Championship Game. Going back to the earlier matchup this season, Reid got too conservative and gave the game away to the Titans. What he continues to do from the end of last week will be interesting to see.
Mahomes and the receivers will look to hit on explosive plays. On the other hand, their steady, controlled offense could be the best attack in slowing down the Titans offense. It helps the Kansas City defense stay fresh, while limiting chances for Derrick Henry. We also have to mention Mecole Hardman. He has many long distance touchdowns this year. Hardman has also given his team a spark in each of the last two games. Maybe Reid will look to utilize the Georgia product a little more and see what he can do.
Be on the lookout for the Kansas City versus Tennessee game preview to end the week on Friday. 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.