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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:06 PM

WC - Titans at Chiefs

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The Titans and Chiefs kick off the NFL playoffs on Saturday from Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. Tennessee never won more than two games in a row this season, but the Titans did just enough to clinch a playoff berth with a Week 17 home victory over Jacksonville. Kansas City went through a roller-coaster season but it finished on a high note as the Chiefs are back in the playoffs for the third consecutive year.

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Tennessee (9-7 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) finished 9-7 last season, but fell short of the playoffs for the eighth straight year. The expectations were raised in Nashville in the wide-open AFC South, but the Titans lost the season opener to the Raiders. Tennessee rebounded with consecutive victories over Jacksonville and Seattle, but then suffered a humiliating 57-14 defeat at Houston in Week 4. To make matters worse, quarterback Marcus Mariota injured his hamstring and eventually missed the following week’s loss at Miami.

The Titans would then catch fire by winning four consecutive games, including three straight victories by four points or less against the Browns, Ravens, and Bengals. Following a 23-point setback at Pittsburgh, Tennessee captured back-to-back division wins over Indianapolis and Houston to be in a prime spot to grab the AFC South title. However, three consecutive losses to NFC West teams derailed any chances at a division championship, but a 15-10 triumph over Jacksonville in Week 17 wrapped up a Wild Card spot.

Kansas City (10-6 SU, 10-6 ATS) took home the AFC West title for the second consecutive season, but it certainly didn’t come easy. One season following a 12-4 record and a divisional playoff appearance, the Chiefs busted out of the gate with a 5-0 record, including victories over the Patriots and Eagles. Kansas City was thought to be the top seed in the AFC, but Andy Reid’s squad dropped five of its next six games.

The first defeat came to the Steelers in Week 6 as 3 ½-point home favorites, 19-13, the third setback to Pittsburgh since the start of last season. The Chiefs also dropped a pair of games to the dreadful New York teams at Met Life Stadium, while losing in the final seconds to Oakland after blowing a late nine-point lead. Kansas City put things together in the last four weeks of the season by pulling off a 4-0 record, including three wins against AFC West opponents.

WHO TO WATCH

The Chiefs drafted quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech in the first round this season to compete with the incumbent Alex Smith. However, Smith put together a terrific season by throwing for 4,042 yards, 26 touchdowns, and five interceptions, setting career highs for passing yards and touchdowns. Rookie running back Kareem Hunt solidified the Chiefs’ backfield by racking up 1,782 yards and scoring 11 total touchdowns. Two Chiefs put together 1,000 yard receiving seasons as Tyreek Hill (1,183) and Travis Kelce (1,038) reached that level, while combining for 15 touchdowns.

Following a 26-touchdown performance in 2016, Mariota took a major step back by throwing for half that number this season with 13 touchdowns and a career-high 15 interceptions. The Titans did not have a 1,000 yard rusher or receiver, but were led by the two-headed monster of Derrick Henry (744) and DeMarco Murray (659) in the backfield, even though Murray will be out on Saturday with an MCL injury. Delanie Walker hauled in a team-high 74 catches for 807 yards, while Rishard Matthews led the team in touchdown catches with four.

HOME/ROAD SPLITS

The Titans and Bills are the only two playoff teams to own losing records on the highway, posting a 3-5 mark. Two of the three wins for Tennessee came at Cleveland (in overtime) and Indianapolis, while blowing out Jacksonville in Week 2. In the role of a road underdog, the Titans compiled an 0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS mark with a cover at San Francisco and a defeat at Pittsburgh.

Kansas City has always seen success at Arrowhead Stadium as the Chiefs put together a 6-2 SU/ATS mark at home. The two losses came to the Steelers and Bills, while going 2-1 SU/ATS as a touchdown favorite or higher.

SERIES HISTORY

Tennessee and Kansas City didn’t meet this season, but the Titans have seen recent success against the Chiefs. The Titans cruised past the Chiefs in the 2014 season opener at Arrowhead, 26-10 as three-point underdogs, as Tennessee intercepted Smith three times. Last season, Tennessee went into Kansas City again and knocked off the Chiefs, 19-17 as six-point underdogs. The Chiefs built an early 14-0 lead but folded in the final three quarters as Henry reached the end zone twice for Tennessee, who outscored Kansas City, 12-0 in the fourth.

The Chiefs have never faced the Titans in the playoffs, but last took on the Houston Oilers in the 1993 divisional playoffs and picking up a 28-20 victory at the Astrodome to reach the AFC Championship game.

PLAYOFF HISTORY

The Titans are back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008, when Tennessee entered as the top seed at 13-3 before getting tripped up by Baltimore in the divisional round, 13-10. The last time the Titans won a playoff contest came in 2003 against the Ravens, while the past four playoff games have finished UNDER the total.

For the fourth time in five seasons under Reid, the Chiefs are headed to the postseason, but they have not won a playoff game at Arrowhead Stadium since 1993. Kansas City owns a dreadful 1-10 record in its past 11 postseason contests with the only victory coming in the Wild Card round at Houston in 2015. Last season, the Chiefs fell short in the divisional playoffs at home to the Steelers, 18-16, the fifth straight home defeat in the postseason.

TRENDING UP

VegasInsider.com handicapper Vince Akins provides a trend supporting the UNDER for Kansas City, “The Chiefs are 0-11-2 OU since Dec 13, 2015 at home coming off a game where they covered.” That trend is 0-3-2 to the UNDER this season, which includes the victory over Washington in Week 4 when the Chiefs scored a defensive touchdown on the final play of the game.

[...]’S TAKE

Scott Cooley of [...] says bettors are staying away from the Titans like the plague, “If we don’t get more Tennessee money, the Chiefs side could also reach double digits. No average bettor believes in the Titans, and the sharps want nothing to do with them. Currently, we have more than 75 percent of the money on Kansas City.”

FUTURE ODDS

The Titans and Bills are the longest shots to make the Super Bowl out of the 12 teams remaining at 50/1 according to the Las Vegas Westgate Superbook. Kansas City sits at 10/1 odds to win the AFC championship, while listed at 20/1 to capture its first Super Bowl title since 1970.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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