Following stunning victories in the divisional round, each for its own reasons, Tennessee vs. Kansas City is the AFC Championship matchup. The Titans and Chiefs clash at 3:05 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, MO. Will the Titans advance to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1999 or will the Chiefs get back to the big game for the first time since 1969?
Spread: Chiefs -7 (-110) | Titans +7 (-110)
Moneyline: Chiefs (-340) | Titans (+280)
Game Total: OVER 53 (-110) | UNDER 53 (-110)
Tennessee Titans’ Recent Form
Continuing to produce in the role of a giant slayer, Tennessee is cruising along like a freight train with Derrick Henry as the lead engine. Following their 20-13 Wild Card win in New England, the Titans upset the Ravens 28-12 in Baltimore during the divisional round last weekend. Henry carried Tennessee with another monster performance, as he became the first running back in NFL history to have at least 175 rushing yards in back-to-back playoff games.
Henry, who has 96 carries over the last three games, posted 195 yards (30 carries) but was held out without a rushing TD for just the second time over his last 15 games. He did, however, toss a three-yard touchdown pass to Corey Davis, which put the Titans up 21-6 in the third quarter. Racking up 1,273 rushing yards (159 YPG) and 11 touchdowns, Henry is the only player in NFL history with at least 1,200 rushing yards and ten TDs over an eight-game span.
Ryan Tannehill was 7/14 for 88 yards, with two TD passes, plus he added a one-yard rushing score. Tannehill became the first quarterback to win consecutive playoff games with at least one pass TD, plus fewer than 100 pass yards in both contests since Terry Bradshaw in 1974. Not to be overlooked, while the Titans defense allowed Lamar Jackson to pad his stats late in the game, Tennessee mostly shut down the presumptuous 2019 NFL MVP.
· Betting Record: SU 11-7 | ATS 11-7 | O/U 10-8
· Offense: 10th, scoring 25.1 points per game
· Defense: 12th, allowing 20.7 points per game
· Turnover Rank: Ninth with a +6 differential
Kansas City Chiefs’ Recent Form
Shocking football fans and blowing up the internet in the process, Kansas City stumbled out of the gate as Houston jumped out to a 24-0 lead last week. Nothing went well for the Texans the rest of the way, as the Chiefs outscored Houston 51-7 over the final 40 minutes of the game and posted a 51-31 victory. The Texans’ downfall started when Bill O’Brien decided to kick a field goal instead of taking a chance on fourth-and-1 from the Chiefs 13-yard line.
While the field goal was good, a Texans first down may have led to Houston going up 28-0, which would have changed the complexion of the game. Instead, Kansas City went on to score five straight touchdowns—the second of which was scored after O’Brien called for a disastrous fake punt that the Chiefs blew up and gave Kansas City the ball at the Houston 33-yard line. Just 17 seconds later, Patrick Mahomes connected with Travis Kelce to make the score 24-14.
In the end, Mahomes posted 321 passing yards, five touchdowns and scrambled for 53 rushing yards. Kelce had 10 receptions for 134 yards and three touchdowns. Running back Damien Williams added 68 total yards with two rushing scores and one TD reception. After a shaky start, which was hampered by facing a short field twice, Kansas City stepped up on defense and contained the Deshaun Watson and crew, who gave up the ball four times on downs.
· Betting Record: SU 13-4 | ATS 11-5-1 | O/U 9-8
· Offense: Fifth, scoring 28.2 points per game
· Defense: Seventh, allowing 19.3 points per game
· Turnover Rank: Seventh with a +8 differential
Fantasy Football AFC Championship Studs and Duds
Knowing which teams have the highest scoring fantasy football players is insight bettor’s can use to help cash winning wagers. The experts at Fulltime Fantasy Sports have posted a comprehensive preview of the Kansas City vs. Tennessee showdown. Kansas City has an edge at quarterback, wide receiver and tight end while Tennessee has an advantage at running back. If the Chiefs own big lead, at any point, that would cut into the advantage Henry brings to this game.
Titans vs. Chiefs Recent History – Week 10 Rematch
Tennessee and Kansas City met during Week 10 action with the Titans posting a 35-32 victory at home. The result was surprising as Kansas City outgained Tennessee 530-371 on offense and the Chiefs had a massive 37:52 to 22:08 edge in time of possession. The Titans defense made stops when it had to, though, as five of the Chiefs’ 12 drives ended with field-goal attempts. Tennessee also forced a fumble that Rashaan Evans returned 53 yards for a touchdown.
After missing two weeks with a knee injury, Patrick Mahomes returned and racked up 446 passing yards and three touchdowns. Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce and Mecole Hardman each caught a TD pass. This contest was the start of the current hot streak by Derrick Henry, as he had 188 rushing yards and two scores. Ryan Tannehill made the most out of his 181 passing yards, as he connected with Anthony Firkser and Adam Humphries for a pair of touchdowns.
This match was a back-and-forth battle as there were five lead changes after the Chiefs jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead. Up 32-27, with 1:27 left on the clock, Kansas City botched the snap on a field-goal attempt and the Titans took over on downs. Tannehill then posted 61 of his 181 total pass yards (on three completions) including a 23-yard TD pass to Humphries. The Titans blocked a field-goal attempt on the Chiefs’ final possession to seal the win.
Chiefs and Titans: Notable Same Team Opponent Results
Facing eight common foes this year, Houston was the most recent same opponent for Kansas City and Tennessee. Prior to their meltdown in Missouri, a skeleton Texans crew lost 35-14 to the Titans in Week 17. Before that, with both teams fielding a full squad, Houston posted a 24-21 win in Tennessee during Week 15 action. The Chiefs would be wise to watch game film on the Week 15 meeting as Houston held Derrick Henry to 86 scoreless rushing yards.
Against teams that made the playoffs, both teams defeated Baltimore and New England. We discussed the Titans’ impressive win over the Ravens but it’s worth noting Tennessee converted four Ravens empty possessions into touchdowns last week. Two were turnovers on down, one was an interception and the other was a Lamar Jackson fumble. Kansas City largely held Jackson in check during the Chiefs’ 33-28 home victory over the Ravens in Week 3.
Henry ran roughshod over the Patriots, racking up 204 total yards and one TD during the Titans’ 20-13 Wild Card win in New England. Tannehill was held to 72 passing yards with one TD and one INT. Kansas City defeated the Patriots 23-16 in New England back in Week 14. The Chiefs built a 20-7 lead before surviving two second-half turnovers and getting some help from poor officiating. Mahomes was held in check (283/1/1) by the Patriots’ stout defense.
What to Expect When the Titans Have the Ball
Every team knows Derrick Henry is the engine that drives the Titans offense but very few were able to shut him down this season. Largely unheralded, the Tennessee offensive line doesn’t get enough credit, as it is has gelled into one of the best in the NFL. After facing the Ravens and Patriots, who ranked fifth and sixth respectively against the rush, Henry now gets a Chiefs run defense that gave up 128.2 YPG and was a bottom-seven unit during the regular season.
What to Expect When the Chiefs Have the Ball
Like Henry in Tennessee, Patrick Mahomes is an unstoppable force that teams know they need to contain. However, unlike Ryan Tannehill, who operates with limited weapons, Mahomes has loads of talent around him. Tennessee ranked bottom-nine in pass defense during the regular season and now faces Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins and Mecole Hardman. The Titans gave up nine TD catches (fourth-most) to tight ends this season.
Coaching Edge: Andy Reid vs. Mike Vrabel
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid owns a 13-14 all-time record in playoff games. Reid went 10-9 over 14 seasons in Philadelphia and he is 3-5 during his first seven seasons in Kansas City. Reid was 1-4 in NFC Championship games with the Eagles and lost to the Patriots during his first AFC Championship try last season. In that contest, Kansas City scored 24 fourth-quarter points to tie the game but New England scored on the only possession in OT and won 37-31.
Mike Vrabel has slayed a pair of giants during his first two playoff games as the Titans bench boss. Vrabel isn’t new to the bright lights of the postseason, as he won three Super Bowls as a player with New England and learned a lot from Bill Belichick along the way. Vrabel has pushed all the right buttons so far this postseason. Despite his limited big-game experience, the head coaching edge doesn’t really favor one team over the other in the AFC Championship.
Kansas City vs. Tennessee Final Thoughts and Pick
Turning things around following a rough start to the season, the K.C. defense has played well during the Chiefs’ seven-game winning streak. Including the Texans’ two scores last week, Kansas City has allowed just eight offensive touchdowns over the last seven contests. Two of those were garbage time scores when the Chiefs had big leads over the Raiders and Chargers. The Chiefs have not traveled in almost a month as their last road game was on Dec. 22 in Chicago.
Tennessee is on an opposite path to Super Bowl 54 as the Titans are playing a fourth straight road game, which includes its Week 17 contest in Houston. The Patriots (1985), Steelers (2005), Giants (2007) and Packers (2010) are the only teams to reach the Super Bowl in the Wild Card era without playing a home game. That said, after winning in New England, Tennessee rolled in Baltimore with a load of confidence and left M&T Bank Stadium with even more swagger.
Cold weather without any precipitation is the game-time forecast, with 23 degrees as the expected high temperature in Kansas City. The Chiefs are more accustomed to playing in freezing temperatures than the Titans and that gives Mahomes and crew a slight advantage. Tennessee playing a fourth straight road game is a concern for anyone backing the Titans. I liked the Chiefs’ prolific offense and surging defense last week, and feel that will be the difference again this week.
Pick: Chiefs -7
Playoff Record: 6-2
Season Record: 44-58-2
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