The league’s sole undefeated team rolls into Arrowhead Stadium Sunday. Both the Titans and Chiefs are coming off bye weeks, but the similarities between the teams seem to end there. The Chiefs are 1-13 in their last 14 games (Titans are 10-4). The Titans time is now, while the Chiefs are going with a youth movement, with a 24.8 average age on starting day, according to usatoday.com (Titans are at 26.3 according to my calculations). While the Titans are not known for blowing teams out, preferring to play a ball-control offense, they are expected to win big here, and on paper this is a huge mismatch.
Titans rushing offense vs. the Chiefs defense:
Look for Kansas City to stack the line, as the Titans maybe without both Justins’ McCareins and Gage at wideout. Nonetheless expect a big day for the Titans running backs, because the Titans will dominate the line of scrimmage, and as the game progresses, a tired KC defense will miss tackles. The bottom line is that there is simply too much talent on our offensive line, and while Glen Dorsey may someday be a disruptive defensive force, this is not the game he breaks out. I have a feeling Lendale White will have his best game of the year as the Titans play keep-away in the second half.
Titans passing offense vs. the Chiefs defense:
Kerry Collins has only been sacked once this year, and shouldn’t face too much pressure from a toothless KC defense. He has been effective this year (3 td 3 int) but not spectacular. Because of injuries, Lavelle Hawkins may finally see some action, and there is buzz that Vince Young may also see some time behind center. The Titans want to move the ball on the ground, but look for Alge Crumpler, Bo Scaife, and Chris Johnson to get a lot of looks, with some play-action to Brandon Jones sprinkled in.
Chiefs rushing offense vs. Titans defense:
The Chiefs have an offensive line in “transition” (which is code word for terrible), and are without Larry Johnson, their star running back. Instead, Kolby Smith will get the nod at running back. The Titans did give up big yards to Texan’s rookie Steve Slaton, and the Titans are a little dinged up on their D-line. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the Titans have depth there, and too much pride as a defense to let another rookie scorch them. They should control the line of scrimmage on Sunday.
Chiefs passing offense vs. Titans passing defense:
The Chiefs are ranked last in the league in passing offense. The Titans have the best secondary in the league. Even without Kyle Vanden Bosch and Tony Brown the Titans can generate an effective pass rush. I don’t want to pile on too much here, but its gonna be a long day for ol’ Brodie Croyle.
Tennessee’s stout defense and running game should give them the edge in field position all throughout the game. This advantage shouldn’t be altered by a Chiefs special teams averaging 5.7 yards per punt return, against a Titans team that has significantly clamped down on their return coverage in the last few games. Tennessee was also able to do some damage of their own against the Ravens in week 5, putting them in the top 3rd in the league in both phases of the return game (2nd in kickoffs). Don’t forget that Rob Bironas represents an advantage in the PK department for the Titans against virtually any team in the NFL.
While both teams are coming off of bye weeks each will be missing some key players. This will hurt Kansas City more than it will hurt the Titans. Even though Larry Johnson has been erratic at times over the last couple of seasons, when he excels he is among the best backs in the league, and his loss greatly reduces the options of a Kansas City team playing one of the best defenses in football. In some ways this game could potentially be a classic example of a very good team overlooking a team they should handle (at least on paper) without much of a problem. Monday Night Football against a seemingly resurgent Colts looms large, but don’t expect a Jeff Fisher coached team to lose very much focus.
This might not be a very pretty game for either team, but Tennessee doesn’t need pretty to win. Again, this looks like the perfect time for a letdown, but the Chiefs don’t appear to be the team that can do it. The Titans control the clock and the line of scrimmage too well in this one for it to be very close.
Prediction: Titans 30-10
Tags: Alge Crumpler Arrowhead Stadium Bo Scaife Brandon Jones Brodie Croyle Chris Johnson Glen Dorsey Houston Texans Justin Gage Justin McCareins Kansas City Chiefs Kerry Collins Kolby Smith Kyle Vanden Bosch Larry Johnson Lavelle Hawkins LenDale White Perfect Season Steve Slaton Tennessee Titans Tony Brown Vince Young