NFL: Titans at Chiefs Wild Card Game
By FRANCIS S ESTEPAN
ITC Sports Division Writer
The NFL wild card game will be starting this upcoming Saturday the 6th. First game, the Tennessee Titans (9-7) will be traveling to Arrowhead Stadium to match up with the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6). If you have been playing fantasy football, the first thought that comes to mind is how both of this teams and players have been very inconsistent stats wise.
The Titans had a rough end to the year only winning 2 of the last 5, but they found themselves landing in the 5th spot after a victory over Blake Bortles and Jacksonville Jaguars. With many questions all around on both sides of the ball this team is truly lucky to be playing Saturday. Mariota will be looking to bounce back from the last game in which he only for 134 yards, while running for 60 yards. Keep in mind that out of those 134 yards a screen pass to Henry accounted for 66 yards. But a Win is Win.
The Kansas City Chiefs in terms of starting and ending a season have played great football. They started the season 5-0 with wins over the ageless Patriots and the young Eagles. Somehow, all that momentum and hype that was built early on was quickly taken away due to close loses to the Steelers and the Raiders. But they bounce back with more big time running plays from rookie Kareem Hunt and found their way beating the Raiders and winning the last 3 games.
So here we are, the wild card game. The battle of the lucky against the inconsistent could be making for a great game to start out the playoffs. Mariota “leading” his team to their first playoff appearance in the last 8 years. Alex Smith and Andy Reid could be looking at their last opportunity to make some noise in the playoffs. So let’s look at key player’s stats and some factors.
- Marcus Mariota – 3232 Passing yards, 13 Touchdowns to 15 Interceptions. 312 rushing yards, 5 touchdowns. Last year’s Mariota who threw 26 touchdowns would the ideal QB the Titans would like to see show up.
- Derrick Henry & Demarco Murray have combined for 11 touchdowns. Henry has the tendency to break out for big plays (66 yard screen pass that led to a touchdown) but even himself is questioning his performance as a number 1 option running back. As off now Murray is questionable to play in this game.
- Delaine Walker & Eric Decker combine for 128 yards out of 306 (42%) receptions. Both have the most playoff experience but have only combined for 4 touchdowns. On the plus side both are known to have made big plays in the past.
- Alex Smith 4042 yards, 26 Touchdowns to 5 interceptions, 355 yards rushing with 1 rushing touchdown could be argued that he is having one of this greatest years due to most of those numbers are career highs (yards, touchdowns). He did have his best games vs Patriots.
- Tyrek Hill and Kareem Hunt have been accounted for 22 touchdowns. Hill can be a factor with his returning ability with the special teams. Hunt ran for 1327 yards. Both are capable of making the big plays
- Kansas City Chiefs defense (personally what I think would be the biggest factor) without Berry and Peter’s hot temper, the defense has enough to worry about. With only 31 sacks in the season they would have to find a way to pressure Mariota and stop Henry from having a historic turn around game.
Decision/ Prediction – 24-13 Titans.
Titan’s veterans Decker and Walker will look to make big plays for 1st downs and in the red zone. Henry should bounce back if Murray is not back, and even if he is, look for Henry to make the most out of his touches (ref 66 yards). Hill will impact the special teams with favorable field advantage but Smith will not fail to disappoint when it counts the most. Andy Reid already in the hot seat and losing his offensive coordinator won’t be able scheme his way through this game.
Notes – Patrick Mahomes played against the dolphins. Could be said is a case to resting players or a fail-safe plan for next year.