The biggest barrier to the Tennessee Titans’ playoff hopes await them Sunday when they look to stay hot against the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs…in frigid Arrowhead Stadium.
And I mean that both literally and figuratively.
The temperature in Kansas City is projected to be in the single digits come game time, which makes this the coldest game the Titans have played in over a decade.
For quarterback Marcus Mariota the date stretches back even further…as in never.
The coldest temperature he ever played in was the low 40’s…which would be considered a heat wave Sunday.
Players have differing opinions on how to prepare themselves for weather like this. Left tackle Taylor Lewan said that he’s going sleeveless Sunday…as he had all year. He even joked that he worked too hard on his arms this offseason to cover them up with sleeves.
Defensive end Jurrell Casey had a different opinion, stating that he would bundle up as needed should he play Sunday. He missed last week’s game with a foot injury.
Figuratively speaking, Tennessee has been one of the hottest teams in the league over the second half of the season, and they will need to stay that way Sunday to keep their division title and playoff hopes alive.
While the records are different, the rosters stack up pretty evenly on paper.
Both teams have intelligent qbs that can beat you with their arm and legs. Both teams have solid receivers, even if the casual fan would not recognize any of them out of uniform.
Both teams have elite tight ends and opportunistic defenses, so Sunday’s outcome will boil down to the team that wins two of the three categories…
- Red zone efficiency
- Special teams
While winning the turnover battle is key for any team any week, it is absolutely paramount in this matchup because it pits strength vs strength.
Kansas City’s offensive and defensive stats won’t wow you, but their turnover margin will. The Chiefs are currently third-best in the league with a plus 11 margin. The Titans’ offense, conversely, has not committed a turnover in over a month.
Red Zone Efficiency:
Again, another matchup of strength vs strength. Tennessee has the number one offense in the league in red zone efficiency, and haven’t committed a turnover inside the opponent’s 20 yard line all season.
The Chiefs, conversely, are equally stingy on defense in the red zone. They have the fifth-best unit in red zone efficiency.
The Chiefs have their biggest advantage on special teams. Punt returner Tyreek Hill is as dangerous as they come, scoring multiple times on returns the last few weeks.
Tennessee’s punt return unit has been the weak link of the team this season, and has given up multiple returns for touchdowns themselves this year.
The Titans will be underdogs but not intimidated Sunday. They’ve won three of their last four in Arrowhead.
The Chiefs will not fall victim of the “trap game” either as they inch closer to a first round bye.
Expect playoff intensity in this one.