NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Titans face the Kansas City Chiefs Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium.The Titans are coming off a 15-10 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the team finished the regular season 9-7. The Chiefs, meanwhile, are coming off a 27-24 win over the Denver Broncos. The Chiefs finished with a 10-6 record, and a four-game winning streak.
The two teams will meet in the AFC Wild Card round at 3:35 p.m. CST.This week, I caught up with Terez Paylor, who covers the Chiefs for the Kansas City Star. You can follow Terez on Twitter @TerezPaylor, and join over 43,000 others.
The Chiefs finished the regular season ranked 5th in the NFL in total offense (9th run, 7thpass) and 28th in total defense (25th run, 29th pass).
Alex Smith led all NFL quarterbacks with a 104.7 rating, and Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt led all NFL rushers with 1,327 yards, along with eight touchdowns. Tight end Travis Kelce led the team with 83 catches for 1,038 yards and eight scores.
Here’s how our conversation went…
Wyatt: I appreciate you doing this Terez. I’ll keep it short and sweet on a busy week, and get straight to the point. What’s the mood/mindset around the Chiefs heading into the playoffs?
Paylor: I think they have to get past the Wild Card round certainly. But the goal is to get to at least the AFC Championship Game. They have not gotten that far under coach Andy Reid. I think that for this season to be a success, they have to go further than they have in the past, and I think for them it is the AFC Championship Game, although they’ll tell you it’s the Super Bowl.
Wyatt: Why should the Titans be worried about the Chiefs heading into this game?
Paylor: Because for the first time in a while, they have a complete team, where they are clicking on all cylinders. The defense has flashed the ability to rush the passer in recent weeks. But the most important thing is quarterback Alex Smith is playing the best ball of his life. Andy Reid schemed up some pretty good things in their playoff loss to Pittsburgh last year, and Alex just missed guys. They don’t lose that game last year if Alex makes a few more throws. So the Chiefs are thinking and hoping: This is a guy who is ready to take his game to the next level in the playoffs, and if that happens, and the way he has been playing, I think it makes them a pretty good out in these playoffs, man.
Wyatt: Now I’m going to flip it. Why might the Chiefs potentially be a good draw for the Titans? What could their weakness be?
Paylor: If the Titans can run the ball. If the Titans can do that, they might be able to control the game on them. And that could happen. The Chiefs run defense has been a lot better in the last month or so than it was earlier in the year. But they still have to prove it. Tennessee is a big team, with a big running back and offensive line, and a lot of two tight end sets. And they are physical. I don’t have to tell you that. So if the Titans can establish their will at the point of attack, keep KC’s offense off the field and control the game, that would put a lot of pressure on the Chiefs offense, and it would be tough to overcome.
Wyatt: OK, Terez, so how does this one play out in your mind?
Paylor: I think the Chiefs are going to win, man. Tennessee, I think it is a young team that has a pretty bright future if Marcus Mariota can get back to what he flashed before. But right now I think this Chiefs team has the edge in experience, and they are just a better team that’s more talented. Plus, they’re at home. So I’m going with the Chiefs.