This Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs will try to continue a recent run of good form as they take on a tough Tennessee Titans team in Nashville. The Chiefs are 3-3 after their win against Washington, while the Titans are 4-2 and coming off of a huge win against the Buffalo Bills.
The Titans are led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who is in his third season with the team and is having another solid year, being a top 10-15 quarterback in all of the advanced numbers. The offense's most lethal weapon is running back Derrick Henry, who is tearing up defenses with a 4.8 yards per carry average, 10 touchdowns and zero fumbles.
Fact to Know: The Titans’ safety duo is among the best in the NFL
The Titans’ defense is known for being among the worst in football, like the Chiefs, but also, they have quite the safety tandem, also like the Chiefs.
Kevin Byard is an established superstar, being named to an All-Pro team twice in recent season, and he’s continuing his great play, having an 86.7 grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF). That's the second-best among safeties.
Interestingly enough, the Titans also have the top safety in the NFL by PFF grade as well in Amani Hooker, though he's their third-most played safety with just 102 snaps played (with a 90.4 grade). Their second most-played safety, Dane Cruikshank, brings this unit down a lot with his 50.9 grade. Nevertheless, this unit looks tremendous, mainly if it has Hooker playing out there.
Matchup to Watch: Chris Jones vs. David Quessenberry
Chris Jones is expected to be back this week after missing the last two games. He was sorely missed in the Bills game two weeks ago, quite clearly, as the team only got 10 pressures all game — compared to the Buffalo’s 25 — and Frank Clark ended up as the only player getting more than one pressure.
Despite missing a third of the season and playing at a level below what he usually is, Jones is still the team leader in pressures with 15 in total. He is by far the most dominant, dynamic, dangerous pass rusher on this team and his presence will finally give the Titans’ offense line something to fear and focus on.
Titans right tackle Dan Quessenberry, who PFF has as the Titans’ high-graded player on offense besides Tannehill and Henry, is much better as a run blocker than as a pass blocker. In pass blocking, Quessenberry has allowed 16 pressures and four sacks, with the majority of that coming against players not as good as Jones. Look for Jones to get some solid production in this one as long as he is truly in game shape.
Key to the Game: Bring the good vibes from last week into this game.
Last week when the Chiefs took on Washington, the first half was truly ugly. They went into the half down 13-10 to Washington and having their last three drives be a punt, a fumble and an unbelievably bad interception from Patrick Mahomes. They really needed a major shift in the game to come and they did actually get it, playing their best defense all season and playing some of their best offense, too.
In the second half, the Chiefs held Washington to a shutout while putting up three consecutive impressive touchdown drives. This was one of the most impressive halves for the Chiefs in recent games. The thing is that it came against Washington, not exactly a top team in the league, so now, they need to show if they’re capable of that again against a 4-2 team.
If the Chiefs can do that, then they’ll win this game handily and their long-term future will be the brightest it’s been in a few weeks. If the opposite occurs and we see something resembling the Bills game, then the need to raise the alarm bells for this team increases significantly.
Prediction: Chiefs 38, Titans 23
The Titans’ offense has some scary pieces, but it still hasn't come close to touching the Chiefs’ offense, which is the most productive offense per drive in the league. In this game, the Chiefs should be able to put up some quality production consistently against Tennessee's defense.
On Sunday, Mahomes goes for three touchdowns and Travis Kelce gets back on track in regards to his basic receiving numbers, with his first game with 100-plus yards and a touchdown since Week 2. The Chiefs’ ability to establish a lead renders Henry useless in later parts of the game and the Chiefs win by two scores.