The Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans feel like they’ve been trending in the right direction over the course of the last few seasons. Is either team really a Super Bowl contender? Probably not. But one of the two will have a shot to be among the last eight squads standing in the postseason after eliminating the other in the first of four Wild Card duels this weekend.
Titans Playoff History
It’s hard to believe the Titans haven’t been in the playoffs since way back in 2008. They’ve been beaten in each of their last three postseason games, and the returns have been particularly poor for the offense in those contests. They were beaten 13-10 by the Ravens at home in the 2008 playoffs, 17-6 by the Chargers the year before and 17-14 by the Patriots in 2003 before their last victory against the Ravens in that ’03 season.
Tennessee is 14-19 all-time in the playoffs, though nine of those wins (and the franchise’s only championship) date back to when they were the Houston Oilers.
Chiefs Playoff History
The Chiefs have amazingly only won nine playoff games in their history. Then again, that’s what happens when you go 1-10 in the postseason from the 1994 AFC Championship Game to the present.
Perhaps the most amazing stat about this run for the Chiefs is that they have only won two games at Arrowhead Stadium in their postseason history, going 2-6 in those games. They’re also a stunning 0-8 ATS in those same duels.
Why Tennessee Will Win in Wild Card Weekend
The Chiefs simply can’t win when they can’t run the football, and there aren’t many better than the Titans at stopping the run. They’ve got a massive front seven that will constantly plug up the box and dare Alex Smith to throw the football. Tennessee ranks No. 4 in the NFL against the run at 88.8 yards per game allowed.
Marcus Mariota’s stats aren’t impressive this year, but he always seems to come up with his biggest plays when his team needs them the most. Don’t let 3,232 yards and a 13-to-15 touchdown-to-interception ratio fool you. Even in Week 17 when he only threw for 134 yards, Mariota was able to use his legs to get his team into the postseason.
There’s an “It” factor that is required of top quarterbacks at this level, and Mariota certainly has “It.”
Why Kansas City Will Win in Wild Card Weekend
It didn’t matter who survived the four-team scrum for the two Wild Card slots in the AFC. Whichever teams made it into the postseason were going to be embarrassing. The Titans happened to be one of the two, and their only two wins against playoff teams this year both came against Jacksonville. One of those victories (the one in Week 17) shouldn’t even really count since the Jaguars had nothing to play for.
For all of the grief that Smith is given about being a “game manager,” he’s had a darn good season. He seemingly never makes mistakes, and he had five games with at least 300 passing yards this year.
Had any other quarterback in the NFL thrown for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns against five picks in 15 games, we would have been impressed. Maybe it’s time we start giving Smith the credit he deserves for just being a darn good quarterback.
Titans vs. Chiefs Prediction
Andy Reid turning into Andy Reid in January. The Chiefs’ history in the playoffs. Alex Smith’s two career playoff wins. It’s all just a lot of history to overcome.
The Titans aren’t good by any stretch of the imagination, but let’s not pretend that the Chiefs are that great either. Sure, they were good down the stretch, but they beat the Raiders, Chargers and Dolphins in three home games, then took care of Denver in a meaningless game in Week 17 when hardly anyone of note played. We’re not sure this team is anywhere near as good as the one that dominated early in the season, and we sure as heck don’t believe this squad is going into Pittsburgh or New England the following week and winning if it happens to get that far.
The Titans won’t even come close in its second game in the playoffs either, but we think they’re at least going to get there. This would be the biggest upset we’ve seen in Wild Card weekend in almost two decades, but Tennessee might just be the lesser of the two evils in this game. We’ll certainly take the points, and we think this one could end in an upset.
Titans vs. Chiefs Pick: Tennessee 20, Kansas City 19
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