We have reached the end of the week. The AFC Championship Game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans is getting closer and closer to kickoff. We have talked all week about certain strategies and player matchups. Now, it is time for us to give our final thoughts. Here is the Chiefs versus Titans game preview.
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Racing To The Finish Line
If Kansas City is able to win this game, it is likely that the Chiefs offense will have an impressive day. Despite a miserable start to the game last week, Patrick Mahomes put the team on his back and they went on a 51-7 run. But how was Mahomes so successful? He was patient, yet at the same time, aggressive. He continued to test his opposing defenders by spreading the ball around. The Chiefs were also scoring touchdowns at a hyper pace.
Speed will likely be a top factor for the Chiefs in defeating the Titans. We saw in the earlier meeting this year that you cannot dance around. Damien Williams used one too many wiggles and fumbled the ball. Ultimately, the Titans returned it for a score. Tennessee defensive coordinator Dean Pees has altered the game plan to specifically stop the quarterbacks in the Titans playoff wins. What will he do to stop Mahomes? Also, does that make the quarterback smarter? Mahomes is sometimes just as good off script or off balance. The Kansas City weapons will need to continue to race for the finish line to score on any chance they get. As long as they keep scoring touchdowns, the Chiefs could eventually gain too big of a lead for the Titans to comeback from, if all goes well for KC.
Get Off The Hill
Stopping Derrick Henry will likely be the Chiefs number one priority on defense. Depending on the situation, it would not be a surprise to see the Titans attempt to get Henry to 150 yards or more. On the other hand, Ryan Tannehill has given this team life. He will look to everything in his power in order to win. Pressuring Tannehill will be key for the Kansas City defense. To boot, the Chiefs cannot allow the Titans to beat them over the top. They have capitalized on this a ton, including just last week.
Steve Spagnuolo will likely mix and match certain players on defense. Tyrann Mathieu will again be counted on heavily. His swiss army knife kind of style could be important in throwing Tannehill off of his game. Meanwhile, the defensive line and linebackers will have a heavy task on their plate. Besides stopping Henry, the Tennessee offensive line is a handful to go against. Getting pressure on the quarterback will take some tooth and nail fighting throughout the entirety of the game. The Chiefs must know that the Titans offensive line can become nasty. If Kansas City can knock those important Tennessee offensive leaders of the hill so to speak, the Titans may have to advert to different plans.
Trust In Me
Andy Reid loves his players and definitely trusts them. However, it will be essential to utilize all of his weapons that are at his disposal. The aforementioned Williams looks more healthy and determined to tote the rock. Additionally, he can be just as dangerous as a pass catching back. We have seen him score a ton in the last few playoff games. Others like Sammy Watkins or Mecole Hardman are just as capable of going off. We know what Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill can do to defenses. But, people forget Watkins is dangerous as a downfield receiver. Last week, he registered his most receiving yards since Week 1 against the Jaguars. Hardman has given this team a spark the last couple of games. Maybe Reid will look to give him a few extra touches on end arounds or routes.
The Chiefs are also aware how feisty this Titans secondary is. Kevin Byard, Adoree’ Jackson, Logan Ryan and Kenny Vaccaro love to attack the football when in the air. How often will they leave a receiver open? Lamar Jackson found open throws last week. Mahomes set his guys up for explosive plays in the first meeting. Nonetheless, Tennessee has experience and is dangerous for some of the best receivers to have to face.
You know the special teams factor will play a large part in this game between the Chiefs and Titans. We saw last week, it was the special teams plays that gave Kansas City a spark. Daniel Sorensen‘s tackle on the fake punt attempt is a play Chiefs fans will never forget.
In the first meeting between KC and Tennessee, special teams caused determining moments in the final result. The Chiefs cadence was picked up well by the Titans. This led to a blocked field goal by Joshua Kalu, sealing the victory for Tennessee. Elsewhere, Dustin Colquitt muffed a snap on a field goal attempt and threw the ball away. This resulted in an intentional grounding call. This mistake came right before the Titans scored the game winning touchdown to stun their opponent.
Like the offensive and defensive plays, special teams will take a great deal of concentration. The Chiefs will look to use their speed to their advantage against the Titans tacklers. Meanwhile, both teams will need to watch for defenders attempting to strip the ball away. Who makes more plays in this area could gain a major boost in the possible outcome.
Matchup To Watch: Chiefs Offensive Line vs Titans Pass Rush
The Titans have just four sacks in two postseason games so far. Yet, it is not all about the sack numbers. They were successful in both games when pressuring the quarterback. If the ball was already released, Tennessee would still generate quarterback hits. Mahomes was not sacked last week, and felt really comfortable in the pocket. Kansas City must watch for any creative blitzes the opposing pass rush may throw their way. For the Chiefs, they have Mahomes ability to extend plays with his legs. But if he is unable to do that, the Titans could keep this one corralled.
The Chiefs have won seven straight games entering this week, with their last loss coming at the hands of the Titans. The Titans win streak sits at three.
Tennessee’s offense had success in the red zone this season. They scored a touchdown 76 percent of the time. However, their defense has allowed a TD on 68 percent of drives, second to last in the league.
Eric Fisher did not play in the first meeting against Tennessee. The Chiefs are 8-0 this year with him in the lineup.
Tannehill led the league in passer rating this season (117.5). Also, he was tops in the NFL in yards per pass thrown.
Andy Reid is 1-8 vs the Titans all time. During his time in KC, Tennessee has stunned the Chiefs at the end of games in the most head scratching ways possible.
That will wrap up the Chiefs versus Titans game preview. Enjoy the game on Sunday. 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.