The (9-7) Tennessee Titans, will travel to Kansas City to face the (10-6) Chiefs on Saturday. Both teams had high expectations in pre-season but have fallen short. The Chiefs started the season 5-0 and bounced back to win 4 in a row,finishing the season with 10 wins. The Titans were 8-4 and lost 3 out of their last 4 games to stumble into the playoffs. It is the first time since 2008 that Tennessee has seen the post-season. The two coaches are on the “hot seat” and the loser of this game could be out of a job as early as next week.
Tennessee on Offense:
The Titans offense has been so predictable, so methodical and so boring, it is almost painful to watch. They are ranked 23rd in total offense, 23rd in passing and 15th in rushing. What was once a young, play-making, quarterback in Marcus Mariota, has now become a game manger under head coach Mike Mularkey. Mariota had career lows this season in touchdowns (13) and passer rating (79.3). He had a career high in interceptions with 15. Not all of this is Mariota’s fault. When you run the ball on first and second down and run the ball constantly inside the Red Zone its hard for a quarterback to put up decent numbers. Opposing defenses knows what is coming. Running back, DeMarco Murray is coming off a third-degree tear of his MCL in Week 16 and it doesn’t look like he will be able to play on Saturday. Derrick Henry had a 66-yard touchdown pass in the win over Jacksonville and had 744 yards rushing in a part time role . He should be able to provide the Titans with some consistency in the running game. TE, Delanie Walker continues to be the number 1 option in the passing attack. He had 807 receiving yards, 74 receptions but only 3 touchdowns. Eric Decker and Rishard Mathews should be able to get open against a below average chiefs defense.
Tennessee on Defense:
The Titans ranked 14th in overall defense. They are 25th against the pass but 4th against the rush. They had 43 sacks on the season which was 5th in the NFL. For this team to win this game, they have got to stop KC’s running game, put Alex Smith in 3rd and long situations and try to pressure him.
KC on offense.
KC was ranked 5th overall in offense, 7th in passing and 9th in rushing offense. Alex Smith threw for 4,4042 yards, 26 touchdown passes and only 5 interceptions. Running back, (rookie) Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing with 1,327 yards. He also had 455 receiving yards and 11 total touchdowns. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce combined for over 2,100 receiving yards, 158 receptions and 15 touchdowns.
This team can be explosive when they are clicking on all cylinders.
KC on Defense
The Chiefs are ranked 29th in overall defense allowing 367.1 yards per game. They were 24th in sacks, only getting to the quarterback, 31 times in 16 games. They ranked 30th against the pass and 25th against the run. They did have 16 interceptions in 16 games, so if they can get Mariota in 3rd and long, look for their defense to have 1 or 2 interceptions.
Both teams have quarterbacks who will feel the pressure if they get down early. The Chiefs have a much more talented roster on offense and should be able to score a lot of points. It is never easy to play in KC but it will be even louder during the playoffs. The only way Tennessee wins would be if Mariota ignores his coach and scrambles when he has the opportunity. If Mariota plays the game of his life, and audibles to be more creative, they can win.
The problem here is Mariota believes in his coaches, he is too humble to question what Mularkey is doing. The former Heisman Trophy winning quarterback has too much faith in his coaching staff… that is his weakness.
The Titans need to fire Mularkey. His offensive philosophy is straight out of the 1980’s.
Take the Chiefs 34-17.
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