The Wild Card round of the playoffs gets underway with the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Tennessee Titans. Kickoff is set for 4:20 EST on Saturday, January 6 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. The game will be televised by ESPN. Oddsmakers are listing the Chiefs as 9-point favorites at home with an over/under of 44 points.
Titans vs Chiefs Game Preview & Betting Odds
The Chiefs have been one of the most difficult teams in the NFL to figure out this season. They looked like world beaters while starting the year 5-0, only to lose six of their next seven games. However, Kansas City turned things around in December, winning four in a row to close out the season and win the AFC West.
Of course, postseason success has eluded the Chiefs in recent years. Kansas City has reached the playoffs in three of the last four seasons under Andy Reid. But they’ve lost their first playoff game twice, including a home loss to the Steelers last year.
Meanwhile, the Titans nearly missed the playoffs. In early December, Tennessee was 8-4 and hoping to win the AFC South. However, the Titans lost three of their last four games, nearly costing them a playoff spot. But a win over Jacksonville in Week 17 was enough to get them to the playoffs for their first time since 2008.
Free NFL Pick Against the Spread: Chiefs -9
This would be a lot of points to cover in a regular season game, and it’s definitely a lot in a playoff game. Nevertheless, I don’t have a lot of faith in the Titans after the way they struggled down the stretch. I also think the Chiefs are back on track and should be considered a legitimate threat in the AFC. I’ll lean toward the Chiefs to win by double digits.
The problem with the Titans is that there’s no part of their team that I believe is strong enough to carry them to victory in a playoff game. They are average defensively and average running the ball. Those are two things teams have to do exceptionally well in order to win playoff games on the road. Marcus Mariota has also been largely unimpressive down the stretch, so he’s unlikely to put the Titans on his back in a playoff game.
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Meanwhile, the Chiefs have a powerful and balanced offense and a quarterback who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Kansas City’s offense finally has a top-flight wide receiver in Tyreek Hill, as well as one of the best tight ends in the league in Travis Kelce. With the way Kareem Hunt has run the ball this season, the Kansas City offense provides a tough matchup for the Titans, who have struggled to stop teams with a diverse array of playmakers.
Defensively, the Chiefs have been up and down this season, so statistically, they are middle of the pack. But Kansas City’s defense has finished strong, giving up 15 points or less in three of their final four games. The Chiefs also have strong pass rushers, who will make life tough for Mariota if the Titans fall behind.
Finally, I think the Chiefs being at home gives them a distinct advantage. Despite their midseason swoon, the Chiefs were 6-2 at home this year, losing only to the Steelers and Bills, two playoff teams. Those six wins also came by an average margin of victory of nearly 12 points. On the other side, the Titans were 3-5 on the road, with two of those wins coming against the Browns and Colts.
Ultimately, I think the Titans going to Arrowhead Stadium and coming away with a win is asking too much, especially considering their struggles in December. Plus, unlike the Chiefs teams of the past, this year’s version can create explosive plays offensively. The Chiefs will be too tough at home, and they’ll use a couple big plays in the 2nd half to win comfortably and cover the spread.
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