Chiefs Make Third Straight Trip To Postseason
The Kansas City Chiefs finished the schedule as one of the hottest teams in the NFL with four straight wins. But the regular season means nothing now. Every game from here on out is sudden death.
“In the playoffs, it’s win or go home,” Tennessee Titans cornerback Logan Ryan said this week.
The Chiefs tackle the Titans on Saturday in the first of four wild card games this weekend. They are nine-point favorites to win the game (odds provided by bovada.lv). It’s the first time these two franchises have met in the playoffs.
This is the third straight trip to the postseason for the Chiefs (10-6), while the Titans (9-7) are preparing for their first shot at the Lombardi Trophy since 2008.
Both teams had great starts to their seasons. The Chiefs were on top of the league after winning their first five games, including a shocking win at New England. The Titans raced out to the division lead in the AFC South after 12 games, posting an 8-4 record.
The difference between these two rivals is that the Chiefs managed to overcome a mid-season slump, while the Titans just about blew their playoff chances. Tennessee limped into a wild card berth by winning one of its final four games, which included road losses at Arizona and San Francisco.
Why Tennessee will win:
- Defense often keeps opponents under 20 points.
- Finished regular season 8-4 against AFC teams.
- Titans 8-7-1 against the spread so far this year.
Why Kansas City will win:
- Chiefs (6-2) tough to beat at home this season.
- Third consecutive playoff appearance.
- Finished regular season with four straight wins.
Alex Smith is no stranger to the playoffs as this will be his seventh start in the postseason and his fifth with the Chiefs. The 13-year veteran threw for more than 4,000 yards this season — the most of his career — with a 67.5 per cent completion rate. He also had a career-high in touchdown passes with 26 and just five interceptions.
Rookie Kareem Hunt carried the load in the Chiefs backfield, gaining 1,327 rushing yards and 455 receiving yards with 14 total touchdowns. All-Pro tight end Travis Kelce was the Chiefs leading receiver with 83 catches and 1,073 yards. He was second on the team with eight touchdowns.
Marcus Mariota had his worst season of his three-year career with the Titans. The 24-year-old had career-lows in QB rating (79.3), interceptions (15) and touchdown passes (13). Many believe he is still bothered by a hamstring and lower right leg injury.
Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray shared the workload on the ground. Henry finished the season with 744 yards and five touchdowns, while Murray had 659 yards and six TDs. Veteran tight end Delanie Walker was Tennessee’s leading receiver with 74 receptions, good for 807 yards and three scores. However, Murray will not play in Saturday’s game. He didn’t practice all week due to a torn MCL in his right knee.
The Titans are 8-7-1 against the spread (ATS) this season and have 35 players who have never played in the postseason. The Chiefs finished the season among the best against the spread at 10-6. They were also second in the NFL in turnover ratio at +15, while the Titans were tied for 23rd at -4.
The Chiefs have been playing much better football after losing six of seven in the middle of the season. The Titans have struggled every week of late, especially on the road — and Arrowhead is one of the toughest stadiums in the league for visitors.
VGB’s pick — Kansas City (-9), Over (44.5)
VGB’s Top 10 NFL Teams
(Current odds to win Super Bowl LII listed after team record. Odds provided by bovada.lv.)
- Minnesota (13-3) +400 — Vikings’ defense allowed fewest points in the league.
- New England (13-3) +225 — Last won back-to-back Super Bowls in 2004-05.
- Los Angeles Rams (11-5) +800 — Rams first in scoring after finishing last in ’16.
- Pittsburgh (13-3) +575 — Steelers 6-2 against teams with winning record.
- New Orleans (11-5) +750 — Saints win NFC South after three 7-9 seasons.
- Carolina (11-5) +2500 — Panthers improved plus-five from 6-10 last year.
- Philadelphia (13-3) +1200 — Huge question marks remain at QB position.
- Kansas City (10-6) +1800 — Finish regular season with four straight victories.
- Jacksonville (10-6) +1800 — Easiest schedule in the league aided turnaround.
- Atlanta (10-6) +1600 — Reigning NFC champs on the road throughout playoffs.