The 9-7 Tennessee Titans will travel to Kansas City to take on the 10-6 Chiefs this Saturday afternoon in the AFC Wild Card game. These 2 teams took very different paths on their way to securing a playoff berth. The Chiefs clinched the AFC West championship two weeks ago and have had a lot of time to prepare for this game. They beat the Broncos last week 27-24 in a meaningless game but suffered key injuries to their special teams. Kick returners Akeem Hunt and De’Anthony Thomas were both lost for the season. The Titans had to fight until the last minute of the season in securing their first playoff birth since 2008. The Titans beat a very good Jacksonville Jaguars team last week 15-10. The win was a must win and snapped a 3 game losing streak.
Tennesse’s defense led the way against Jacksonville by forcing 4 turnovers, which included 2 interceptions of Blake Bortles. They did a good job against the run as Jacksonville gained just 83 yards on 24 carries. Mariota played well completing 12 of 21 passes for 134 yards, 1 touchdown and 0 interceptions. He also rushed for 60 yards on 10 carries. He has had an up and down season as he finished the year with 13 touchdown passes but 15 interceptions. Derrick Henry led all receivers with 66 yards on his lone reception. The catch was their only touchdown and gave them a 6-0 lead. The Titans offense ranks 23rd in the league in yards per game at 314 and 19th with 21 points. Their defense ranks 17th by allowing 17 points per game and 13th allowing their opponents to gain 328 yards.
Alex Smith has had another great year for the Chiefs finishing with 26 touchdowns and 4,042 yard while throwing just 5 interceptions. Kareem Hunt also had a good year with 8 touchdowns and 1,327 rushing yards. The Chiefs have won 4 games in a row and have outscored their opponents 112 to 65 during that stretch. Their offense ranks 5th in the league this year with 375 yards per game and 6th with 26 points per game. Their defense ranks 28th in the league by allowing their opponents to average 385 yards per game and 15th with 21 points allowed. Although this is the 4th time in 5 years the Chiefs are in the playoffs, they advanced past the first round just once.
Kansas City will have home field advantage and are favored by 9 points in this game. They have gone 10-6 against the spread season including 6-2 at home. The Titans have gone 8-7-1 against the spread including 3-5 on the road. Forcing turnovers will be a key for the Chiefs defense as they have forced 24 turnovers in their 10 wins but have just 2 in their six losses. Tennessee will be without running back DeMarco Murray who is out with an MCL tear. The Chiefs enter this game with more experience and Arrowhead Stadium will be rocking.
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