Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Date and Time: Saturday, January 6, 2018, 4:35 p.m. ET
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO
Opening NFL Odds: Chiefs -7, O/U 44.5
Chiefs vs. Titans TV Coverage: ESPN
Will the real Kansas City Chiefs please stand up?
The Chiefs started off this year like gangbusters, opening up at 5-0 and looking like the best team in the NFL. They came back to Earth with losses in six of their next seven games, but they finished up with four straight victories to win the AFC West. This team has already effectively played two playoff games this year, beating the Raiders and Chargers in what proved to be must-win games in to capture the division title. We also know this team has the goods to beat anyone in the NFL from its Week 1 and Week 2 victories over the Patriots and Eagles respectively.
Still, there is plenty of reason for skepticism. We're talking about a team quarterbacked by the consummate game manager, Alex Smith, and we're also talking about a team that has a defense that ranked No. 28 in the NFL, allowing 365.1 yards per game.
The best news for the Chiefs in this matchup is that Tennessee isn't anything special either. The Titans went from 8-4 to 8-7 after a horrid three-game losing streak at a terrible time of year, but they still controlled their own destiny and won in Week 17 over Jacksonville to get into the playoffs.
Though Marcus Mariota has been dragging this team in the right direction over the course of the last few years, this moment still feels pretty big for him and his mates. The only playoff team Tennessee beat this season was Jacksonville, and the second of those meetings in Week 17 should hardly count with the Jags already locked into the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs heading into that game.
You hate to say that the Chiefs will only go as far as their running back takes them, but if we're being realistic, that's the case.
Kareem Hunt won't win Offensive Rookie of the Year, but he'll surely finish second after rushing for 1,327 yards and catching 53 passes for 455 yards. He totaled 11 touchdowns on the campaign and truly was brilliant.
But go back and look at what Hunt did in the middle of the season. During Kansas City's terrible run of form when it lost six out of seven games, Hunt averaged 16.0 carries for 44.1 yards per game without running for a single touchdown.
If we discount Week 17 when he touched the ball just once, Hunt averaged 21.9 carries for 121.4 yards per game in Kansas City's other eight wins. He found the end zone at least once in six of the eight affairs as well.
Titans vs. Chiefs Free Picks
The Chiefs have lost their last five playoff games at home in their history, and they're just 2-6 SU and 0-8 ATS at home all-time in the postseason. That's a lot of history to be fighting against.
Tennessee isn't playing its best ball right now, but Mariota has a history of playing his best games when all the chips are on the table. With DeMarco Murray hoping to come back from an ankle injury that kept him out in Week 17, the Titans will be as close to full-strength as a team could hope to be this time of year.
Between the stout ground game and the fact that the Titans boast the No. 4 rush defense in the NFL, we think they have what it takes to pull off the biggest upset we've seen in the Wild Card round of the playoffs since the 1999 season when the Cardinals went on the road and beat Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin and the Cowboys.
NFL ATS Pick: Titans +7 at BookMaker.eu
NFL Score Prediction: Titans 23, Chiefs 19