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Date: Sunday, January 19th, 2020
Time: 3:05 PM ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium (Kansas City, MO)
Finishing the regular season at 9-7, the Titans have gone on the road and defeated two powerhouses of the league today. Both the Patriots and Ravens have had no answer for Derrick Henry. In his last 8 games, Henry has gone for an astounding 1,273 yards on the ground. Not only does he repeatedly give them short downs, but has also been able to break free 2-3 times a game.
Having a run game is one of the most dangerous recipes to defeat opposing teams in the playoffs. The Titan defense has also shown how formidable they can be, making the MVP quarterback (Lamar Jackson) struggle viably. Tom Brady did not look much better, and the confidence for the Titans is on another level right now.
Ryan Tannehill has performed perhaps the worst out of all starting quarterbacks in these playoffs. Despite his lackluster play, they have not needed much from him to win. Going against a team (Chiefs) that was 26th in rushing yards given up, they may not need much from Tannehill again. Yet, he will be key if the Titans were to fall behind early. There is nothing like the onslaught that the Chiefs can put up in any game, shown in their divisional matchup.
Tennessee Titans Depth Chart
They were down 21-0. Within the blink of an eye, Mahomes and the Chiefs reeled off 41 points in the 2nd and 3rd quarters. They may have the most talented quarterback in the game today in Patrick Mahomes. They can be considered the fastest team on the offensive end. With the play calling of Andy Reid, this offense is hard to stop.
Although the Chiefs were mediocre at best defensively for the majority of the season, they came along towards the end. After the tough start against the Texans, they were able to get their focus and not allow much ball movement down the field the rest of the game. An almost unstoppable passing attack, underrated run game, and defense coming into itself are what sit the Chiefs in this AFC Championship matchup. They were in this same position last year against the Patriots, to ultimately not advance. The Chiefs will have the edge at quarterback, so everything else will need to fall into place if they hope to move on. One great advantage is that they are the fresher team, although the Titans are the only team left who did not get a bye.
Kansas City Chiefs Depth Chart
Like mentioned above, the Titans will need Tannehill to make some plays, especially if the Titans cannot stop this Chiefs offense. The Titans have luckily held their opponents to 25 total points in these playoffs. As a result, Tannehill’s completions and pass attempts have been extremely low with the success of Derrick Henry. Tannehill will be the X-factor because if he is able to connect deep, this will open up the run game even more against a bad run defense. The Titans will also have great chances if this game happens to be a shootout. There have been games this season when Tannehill has gone completely bananas. Against a pass defense that has been trending down recently, there should be lots of room for criticism if Tannehill has another subpar game.
Patrick Mahomes may be the Joe Montana of this generation when it is all said and done. He has the accuracy, the arm, the mechanics, IQ, athleticism, will to win, and everything in between. It is obvious just how much his offensive line and receiving core respect Mahomes as a player. This tight-knit sense of unity has led their offense to be one of the most lethal for a few years now. The Titan defense ranked 25th this year for yards given up. Yet, they have shown what they can do to slow down opposing great quarterbacks. It is no secret just how great of a defensive-mind Coach Vrabel of the Titans is. As a result, Mahomes will not have it easy by any means to produce the way he is accustomed to.
It is no secret just how special Derrick Henry has been. With comparisons to Herschel Walker, he is a combination of Earl Campbell and Ladanian Tomlinson in his running technique. He will now be universally regarded as a top running back in this league. Forget catching the ball out the backfield, special teams, etc. As a pure runner downfield and playmaker, there is no one quite better than Derrick Henry. He is able to change yard losses to 4 yard pickups. He has a seemless knack for hitting the right hole at the right angle and accelerating just enough. He is durable and able to carry the ball for 30+, going back to his Alabama days and before. He is also always aware of the first down mark. The offensive line has been performing extremely well for the Titans as well. Given what Henry has done against the Pats and Titans defense, he may be in for a huge day if the Chiefs do not make any game changing adjustments for this matchup.
Damien Williams is the first option for the Chiefs in the backfield. With only 12 carries last Sunday, he was able to find the end zone twice. The Chiefs may not have very talented running backs, especially the likes of Derrick Henry. Yet, they are able to utilize them well in the pass and screen game. Lesean McCoy is listed as questionable ahead of the match Sunday and will presumably be the X-factor for this Chiefs team. Look for the Chiefs to get him involved early if he’s able to play. The passing game will have its hands full the way the Titan pass defense has been recently. The offensive line will also have a tough task for the run and pass game.
The receiving game for the Titans has been almost non-existent because solid quarterback play has seemingly been non-existent for the Titans. Yet and still, they have a few playmakers on the outside to change the course of a game. With only 14 total pass attempts from Tannehill last week against the Ravens, he will look to air it out at times against this Chiefs defense. Watch out for AJ Brown and Chris Davis to have solid games. Tight end, Delanie Walker, will be out, so those will be the main targets for Tannehill.
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce are the life of this passing attack. Kelce has been such a reliable option for years, and showed last week just why he’s regarded as one of, if not the best tight end in the game. He had 3 touchdowns by halftime, and is unguardable at the goal line. Watkins, Hardman, and Robinson are all speedy receivers who have the chance to get loose against this Titans defense. The Titans like to be physical, so that may cause some trouble for the types of receivers the Chiefs possess.
Derrick Henry will be the main winner in fantasy for the Titans, given his surge and the suspect run defense of the Chiefs. Mahomes will look to have a good game, but Hill and Kelce will need to perform well to give the Chiefs a chance at this game.
The Chiefs are favored by 7.5 points. If this is a close game going into the 4th quarter, look for the Titans to pull it out with Derrick Henry. Be mindful of an offensive explosion from the Chiefs early in the 2nd half, as that has been their forte. The Chiefs are at home in the same game they played last year, so experience may lie on their side.