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In-Depth Prediction, Preview, and Odds

Titans vs. Chiefs Prediction

Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 3:05pm EST
Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City

In-depth Coverage

This is an in-depth analysis of this game, covering every possible detail and angle. Use the table of contents to navigate between each section, or just jump on in!

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Table of Contents

Last Updated: Thursday, January 16, 2020 at 1:22pm EST

Introduction

The Kansas City Chiefs will host the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship game Sunday afternoon from Arrowhead Stadium. The Titans stunned the Ravens with a 28-12 win in Baltimore last week, and the Chiefs rallied for a 51-31 home win against the Texans in their AFC Divisional game. The Titans recorded a 35-32 home win against the Chiefs in week 10. Tennessee also eliminated the Chiefs in the 2017 Wildcard game.

Tennessee Titans Review

The Tennessee Titans have embraced the role of underdog. They stunned the Patriots with a 20-13 road win in the Wildcard and crushed the Ravens 28-12 in Baltimore in the Divisional Playoff. The Titans have now won three straight games dating back to their regular-season finale win against the Texans.

Ryan Tannehill was outstanding in the regular season after taking over as the #1 QB in place of Marcus Mariota. The veteran QB logged 2742 passing yards with a 22:6 TD to INT ratio in 11 regular-season games. Tannehill has been busy handing the football to Henry and only has 160 passing yards in the two playoff wins, although he has a 3:1 TD to INT ratio.

Derrick Henry has been the MVP of the playoffs so far. The 26-year old RB rushed for 182 yards against the Pats and followed with a remarkable 195 yards against a strong Baltimore defense. Titans #1 receiver A.J. Brown only has 13 receiving yards in his last two games. The 22-year old rookie WR finished the regular season with 1051 yards. The Titans offense has clearly relied heavily on their running game and for good reason. They have scored at least 28 points in three out of their last four games.

The Tennessee defense was a strength most of the season and they were stellar in both playoff wins. They Limiting Tom Brady and the Pats to 13 points and Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to 12 points which is no easy task. They finished the regular season ranked 12th against the rush and 24th against the pass. Tennessee scored an average of 25.1 points in regular season play, good for 10th in the NFL. They allowed an average of 20.7 points, placing them 12th overall. The Titans are now 7-3 on the road including their playoff wins.

Kansas City Chiefs Review

No lead is insurmountable for the Kansas City Chiefs. They rallied from a 24-0 deficit to the Texans in their 51-31 victory in the AFC Divisional Playoff last week. K.C. has now won seven consecutive games overall.

Pat Mahomes came through with a spectacular effort in the winning effort, racking up 321 passing yards along with a remarkable five touchdowns. The 24-year old star QB is rarely sacked and the Texans did not record a sack against him. Mahomes logged 4031 passing yards with a 26:5 TD to INT ratio in the regular season. Damien Williams rushed for 74 yards last week. The 27-year old RB had a solid regular season, recording 498 rushing yards on an average of 4.5 yards per attempt. 

Travis Kelce was a force last week, making 10 receptions for 134 yards. The 30-year old tight end has great chemistry with Mahomes and he collected 1229 receiving yards this season. The Chiefs offense has now scored over 30 points in two straight games and has recorded at least 23 points in 12 straight. Mahomes has led the Chiefs to the fifth-ranked passing offense.

The Kansas City defense does not get the attention their offense does, however, they were outstanding in the final stretch of the season and on Sunday. They stand eighth in the NFL against the pass and 26th against the run. The Chiefs averaged 28.2 points this season ranking them fifth in the NFL. They held opponents to 19.7 points, good for seventh overall. K.C. is 6-3 at home.

The Running Game

Tennessee Titans Running Offense
vs. Kansas City Chiefs Running Defense

Tennessee Titans Running Offense

The Titans' running game was a strength all season. They finished the regular season third in rushing yards per game. Derrick Henry has elevated the Titans to elite status in his playoff run. The 26-year old RB led the entire NFL with 1540 rushing yards on an average of 5.1 yards per attempt in the regular season. He had one of his biggest games of the regular season against the Chiefs where he accumulated 188 rushing yards. Henry has eclipsed 100 rushing yards eight times this season.

“It’s not just me,” Henry said after rushing for 195 yards and throwing a 3-yard touchdown pass in a 28-12 upset of the NFL’s top team Saturday night. ”It’s a team effort. We’re all playing collectively as an offense, as a whole. We’re just locked in. We believe in each other. We communicate. It’s working out there.”

-Derick Henry after Saturday’s win (Source: APNews)

The fourth-year RB then went to New England and exploited the Patriots for 182 yards followed by a tremendous 195-yard effort in Baltimore. Henry is averaging a sizzling 5.9 yards per attempt in his two playoff games. He has made three catches for 29 yards in two playoff games.

The Titans offensive line has improved from the start of the season and has played a role in Henry’s success.

Kansas City Chiefs Run Defense

The Chiefs rush defense has been an issue several times this season, and they finished 26th against the run. They do have some momentum after holding the Texans to 94 rushing yards, although they only attempted 21 rushes. It will obviously be a much tougher challenge against Henry.

Linebacker Anthony Hitchens led the Chiefs with 88 combined tackles accompanied by six tackles for a loss in regular-season play. Linebacker Damien Wilson has tallied 81 tackles and defensive end Tonoh Kpassagnon logged 7.5 tackles for a loss. Defensive end Frank Clark is recognized more for his pass-rushing abilities but he is also strong against the run and has collected five stuff tackles. Defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi is effective against the run and has recorded five tackles for a loss this season. According to Football Outsiders, the Chiefs have a 14% stuff rate which is 27th in the NFL.

Stats

Titans

Rushing Attempts per Game: 27.8 (10th)

Rushing Yards: 2223 (3rd)

Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 138.9 (3rd)

Average Rushing Yards Per Carry: 5 (2nd)

Chiefs

Opponent Carries Per Game: 26 (17th)

Opponent Rushing Yards: 2051 (26th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game: 128.2 (26th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4.9 (28th)

Who has the Edge?

The Titans have the decisive edge here. Derrick Henry has put on a show in this playoff. He has now rushed for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games which included 195 yards against a strong Ravens defense last week. This is a great matchup for Henry against a poor rush defense. The Chiefs allowed an average of 128 rushing yards per game this season, and Henry should resume his success.

Advantage: Tennessee Titans

Kansas City Chiefs Running Offense
vs. Tennessee Titans Running Defense

Kansas City Chiefs Running Offense

The Chiefs do not usually generate significant yards on the ground, due mostly to the fact they pass frequently. They finished 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards. The Chiefs tallied a solid 118 rushing yards against the Texans last week with Mahomes leading the way with 53, while Damien Williams rushed for 47 yards.

Damien Williams and LeSean McCoy split the duties on the ground in the regular season, but McCoy has not received any playing time in three straight games and it will be all Williams in this game. Williams finished with 498 receiving yards on an average of 4.5 yards per attempt and five touchdowns. The 27-year old RB registered 47 yards on 12 carries against the Texans last week. Williams was productive in the loss to the Titans in week 10, posting 77 rushing yards.

Tennessee Titans Run Defense

The Titans rush defense is their top strength on the defensive side. They ranked 12th in rushing yards allowed in the regular season. They conceded 109 yards to the Texans in their regular-season finale. Next they went to New England and only gave up 98 rushing yards. Last week they had some trouble against Lamar Jackson and the Ravens, surrendering 185 yards.

CB Logan Ryan actually led the Titans with 113 combined tackles and he made seven tackles for a loss. Rashaan Evans is an outstanding run-stuffer. The 24-year old linebacker made 11 tackles for a loss and he made three stuff tackles in the Wildcard win against the Patriots.

Harold Landry III led the team with 13 tackles for a loss this season. Defensive tackle Jurrell Casey posted seven tackles for a loss, while Mike Pennel logged thee. According to Football Outsiders, the Titans are stuffing opponents 18% of the time placing them just below the average of 19%.

Stats

Chiefs

Rushing Attempts per Game: 23.4 (27th)

Rushing Yards: 1569 (23rd)

Average Rushing Yards Per Game: 98.1 (23rd)

Average Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4.2 (20th)

Titans

Opponent Carries Per Game: 25.9 (16th)

Opponent Rushing Yards: 1672 (12th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Game: 104.5 (12th)

Opponent Rushing Yards Per Carry: 4 (7th)

Who has the Edge?

The Titans get the edge here. The Chiefs likely won’t run much. They only attempted 21 rushes last week and when they do opt for the run it won’t be easy. The Titans rush defense was a strength all season. They held opponents to 104 rushing yards in the regular season and held the Patriots to 98 rushing yards in the Wildcard victory. Chiefs’ RB Damien Williams only tallied 47 yards on 12 carries last week.

Advantage: Tennessee Titans

The Passing Game

Tennessee Titans Passing Offense
vs. Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense

Tennessee Titans Passing Offense

The Titans passing offense doesn’t have the dazzle the Chiefs do as they prefer to run the ball to Derrick Henry. With that said, Ryan Tannehill has done a great job since taking the reigns as the #1 QB ahead of Marcus Mariota. The 31-year old QB posted a 7-3 record as the Titans’ starter in the regular season. He finished with 2742 passing yards to go with a sparkling 22:6 TD to INT ratio. Tannehill came through with several big games and eclipsed 300 passing yards three times.  He has connected on 15 of 29 passes for 160 yards with a 3:1 TD to INT ratio in two playoff games.

Titans #1 receiver A.J. Brown was one of the top rookies in the NFL this season. The 2nd round draft pick racked up 1051 receiving yards and reached the 100-yard mark on five occasions. Brown only tallied 17 receiving yards against the Chiefs in week 10. Brown has 13 receiving yards in two playoff games.

“We knew our situation started in Houston and our playoffs started then. We had to win,” center Ben Jones said. “All we can focus on is this week. So this is a big one for us, and we just got to take care of this week.”

-Ben Jones on the Titans’ road success. (Source: AP News)

Corey Davis has been quiet in the two playoff wins, making only one catch on four targets for three yards. The 24-year old WR brought in 601 receiving yards in the regular season. Tight end Anthony Firkser and Jonnu Smith each have over 20 receiving yards in two playoff games.

Kansas City Chiefs Passing Defense

The Chiefs pass defense is among the best in the NFL. They finished eighth in passing yards conceded. They did not fare particularly well in the Divisional win last week, squandering 388 passing yards to Deshaun Watson. They conceded 281 passing yards to Philip Rivers in their regular-season finale. The Chiefs limited Ryan Tannehill to 181 yards in the week 10 meeting.

The Chiefs have a solid pass rush. They ranked 11th in the NFL with 45 sacks on the season. Defensive tackle Chris Jones led the team with nine sacks on the season. Jones did not play last week due to a calf injury and is questionable. Defensive end Frank Clark posted eight sacks this season, and he was a force in the Divisional Playoff, racking up three sacks. Emmanuel Ogbah tallied 5.5 sacks but is on the IR.

Charvarius Ward has the best rating of all Chiefs cornerbacks on Pro Football Focus. Ward owns a solid 69.5 grade and has only allowed 40 receptions on 80 targets. Bashaud Breeland holds a poor 48.3 grade on PFF and has deflected eight passes along with two interceptions.  Safety Tyrann Mathieu is one of the best safeties in the game. The veteran has broken up 12 passes and has four picks. The Chiefs are fifth in the NFL with 16 interceptions.

Stats

Titans

Passes Completed: 297 (31st)

Average Yards Per Completion: 8.8 (1st)

Passing Yards Per Game: 223.9 (21st)

Passing Touchdowns: 28 (8th)

Chiefs

Opponent Passing Yards Per Game: 221.4 (8th)

Opponent Passes Completed: 352 (18th)

Opponent Completion Percentage: 60.5% (4th)

Opponent TD Passes: 21 (8th)

Who has the Edge?

The Chiefs have the edge here. The Titans likely won’t pass the football frequently unless they are down by a large margin. Ryan Tannehill has only attempted 29 passes for 160 yards in the two playoff games. Moreover, the Chiefs pass defense is outstanding. They limited opponents to 221.4 passing yards per game in regular-season play and Tannehill only recorded 181 passing yards against the Chiefs in week 10.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense
vs. Tennessee Titans Passing Defense

Kansas City Chiefs Passing Offense

Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs passing offense is a huge threat regardless of the defense. The finished fifth in passing yards in the regular season although Mahomes missed two games. The 24-year old star collected 4031 passing yards with a 26:5 TD to INT ratio. He surpassed 300 passing yards seven times in the regular season. Mahomes did toss three picks in his last four games of the regular season, but overall he limits his turnovers.

“We’ve already played them and we know they’re a tough team,” Mahomes said. “They’re a team that battles all the way until the end. They’re a team that’s really hot, playing really good football right now, so we know it’s going to take our best effort. And, whatever way, we’ve got to find a way to win. That’s the biggest thing you saw here today was we’ve just got to find a way no matter what.”

-Pat Mahomes on the Titans. (Source: APNews)

Travis Kelce led the Titans with 1229 receiving yards in the regular season and he posted 134 receiving yards on 10 receptions last week. The 30-year old tight end is very difficult to guard and he should have another solid performance in this one.

Tyreek Hill logged 860 receiving yards this season. While he did not put up many big performances, he was consistent, making at least five catches in five out of his last six games, and he picked up 41 receiving yards last week. Sammy Watkins was quiet down the final stretch of the season but came through with 76 receiving yards against the Texans last week. Watkins tallied 673 receiving yards in the regular season.

Tennessee Titans Passing Defense

The Titans pass defense was an area that was exploited at times in regular-season play and as a result, they finished 24th against the pass. They did a great job containing Tom Brady and the Pats in the Wildcard, holding him to only 209 yards. Lamar Jackson filed 365 passing yards against the Titans last week but completed only 31 of 59 pass attempts. They held the Texans to 225 passing yards in their regular-season finale.

The Titans own a decent pass rush and recorded 43 sacks this season, ranking them 12th in the NFL. Linebacker Harold Landry III led the way with nine sacks, and he sacked Lamar Jackson last week. Linebacker Kamalei Correa and defensive tackle Jurrell Casey both posted five sacks this season.

CB Logan Ryan has been targeted by opposing QB’s more than any other Titans corner. Ryan owns 65 grade on PFF and has allowed 80 receptions on 114 targets. Ryan has deflected 18 passes to go with four picks. He was outstanding in Baltimore last week, making a combined 13 tackles and broke up one pass. Adoree’ Jackson features a 76.3 grade on PFF and has broken up six passes. Tramaine Brock Sr. holds a 68.7 score on PFF. Safety Kenny Vaccaro deflected five passes.

Safety Kevin Byard had a great season and finished with five picks. Byard along with Rashaan Evans will likely be covering Kelce, and Adoore’ Jackson will be defending Hill.

Stats

Chiefs

Passes Completed: 378 (9th)

Average Yards Per Completion: 8.1 (4th)

Passing Yards Per Game: 281.1 (5th)

Passing Touchdowns: 30 (5th)

Titans

Opponent Passing Yards Per Game: 255 (24th)

Opponent Passes Completed: 386 (28th)

Opponent Completion Percentage: 64.5% (23rd)

Opponent TD Passes: 25 (17th)

Who has the Edge?

The Chiefs definitely have the edge here. Pat Mahomes threw for 321 yards with five touchdowns last week. This is a mismatch in the Chiefs' favor against a Titans’ pass defense that ranked 24th in the NFL in the regular season. The Titans also surrendered 365 passing yards to Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson last week. The Chiefs receivers in Tyreek Hill along with TE Travis Kelce should be able to shine in this game.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Intangibles

Tennessee Titans

The Titans signed Greg Joseph after their main kicker Ryan Succop landed on the IR. Joseph has yet to attempt a field goal but has not missed any of his extra-point attempts.

Kalif Raymond led the Titans with 403 return yards on 18 attempts, resulting in an average of 22.4 yards per return.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel has done a great job and is in his second season as the head coach. They have gone 9-7 in both seasons under Vrabel and he is 2-0 in the playoffs.

Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker had an outstanding season, connecting on 34 of 38 field goals and went 13 for 13 on kicks ranging from 40-49 yards. His longest was a 56-yarder.

Mecole Hardman is one of the best returners in the NFL. The young WR finished 3rd in the NFL with 704 return yards on 27 attempts.

Chiefs coach Andy Reid is one of the most established coaches in the NFL. Reid has led the Chiefs to four straight AFC West titles. Reid is still eying his first Super Bowl. He features a 77-35 regular-season record as Chiefs head coach and a 3-5 mark in the playoffs. He is 1-8 against the Titans.

Who has the Edge?

I give a slight edge to the Chiefs. Andy Reid has a better resume and is the more experienced coach, plus he has won several NFL playoff games. Also, Titans field goal kicker Greg Joseph has yet to attempt a field goal with the Titans, while Harrison Butker converted on 89% of his field goals.

Advantage: Kansas City Chiefs

Final Outlook

Tennessee with the points is my top play in the AFC Championship. Tennessee defeated the Chiefs 35-32 in the Week 10 meeting. The Titans' path to this one is remarkable. They beat the Patriots 20-13 on the road, followed by a  28-13 win in Baltimore.

This is a good matchup for the Titans offense. Derrick Henry is the key to the Titans’ success. The veteran running back has rushed for at least 180 yards in three consecutive games including 195 yards in Baltimore last week against one of the best rush defense units in the NFL. The Chiefs rush defense is poor. They are allowed an average of 128 rushing yards per game in regular-season play, placing them down at 26th in the NFL.

Furthermore, the Titans’ sparkling defensive play cannot be overlooked. They should be able to contain the Chiefs which will go a long way in helping them cover the points. The Titans held the Patriots and Ravens to 13 and 12 points respectively and also came through with three interceptions in those two games.

Prediction: Tennessee Titans

Second Opinion on this pick from StatSalt.com

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Rating:

I expect a high scoring game. The Titans were able to score 28 points in Baltimore last week and the Ravens have a better defense than the Chiefs. Derrick Henry has been incredible and I expect him to lead his team to several scoring drives. The Chiefs just surrendered 31 points to the Texans which gives me added confidence the Titans can thrive offensively.  The over is 9-3 in the Titans’ last 12 games overall.

In addition, while I expect Tennessee to at least contain the Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes is always in beast mode and came through with five passing touchdowns last week, plus the Titans' pass defense finished the regular season ranked 24th in the NFL. The over is 4-1 in the Chiefs’ last five home games against a team with a winning home record. These teams played to a high scoring 35-32 decision in Week 10 and the over should cash again.

Prediction: Over
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Written By Adam Rauzino

Adam has been a sports fanatic his entire life, closely following hockey, baseball, basketball and football. Adam enjoys analyzing various stats, as well as studying Sabermetrics and analytics to take his picks to a whole new level. Adam has a passion for writing about various sports as well as personal finance and has brought his talents to us here at Winners and Whiners. He graduated with a diploma in business marketing and business finance.