I know what you’re thinking….
“How can playoff experience favor the Tennessee Titans when they haven’t been to the postseason in nearly a decade and the Kansas City Chiefs made it four out of the last five years?
After tripling their win total from 2015 (3) to 2016 (9), the Titans set two goals for the 2017 season…win the division and make the playoffs.
Jacksonville finished a game ahead of the Titans this year and earned the division crown, but an argument can be made that Tennessee had a better division record and swept the Jags in their head to head meetings….making them the de facto kings of the AFC South.
But I digress.
The Titans reached their ultimate goal of making the playoffs this year, and anything beyond that is gravy at this point.
We have to remember…this is a franchise that is two years removed from being one of the worst in the league and they are ahead of schedule when compared to other cellar-dwelling teams from 2015.
The majority of Tennessee’s roster has never been to the playoffs, and neither has their head coach, Mike Mularkey. They can play loose and confident today…oblivious to the magnitude of the moment because they’re right on task in their rebuilding efforts.
Besides, last week’s “win and you’re in” victory over the Jags was their high-pressure game. Now they are in the tournament and playing with house money.
On the other hand, Kansas City’s recent playoff experience could weigh heavily on the minds of head coach Andy Reid, quarterback Alex Smith, and the fans at Arrowhead Stadium.
Because the experiences haven’t been good.
The Chiefs have been to the postseason in each of the last three seasons, and has made the playoffs in four of the last five. They are 1-4 over that span and have lost five straight playoff games at Arrowhead Stadium.
Three months ago the Chiefs were labeled the best team in all of football after a 5-0 start that included an impressive beat down of the defending champion Patriots, in Foxboro, on opening night.
Then they hit a slump, losing six of seven games to teams like the Giants and Jets.
The Chiefs recovered to win their last four games and the AFC West title, but unlike the Titans, expectations for this team doesn’t end with making the playoffs…it starts there.
If Kansas City loses today then the season would be viewed as a catastrophic failure. And oh, by the way, they are facing a Tennessee team that beat them in Arrowhead last season as a huge underdog.
In fact, two of Alex Smith’s worst statistical games as the Chief’s starting quarterback have come against the Titans, and Tennessee’s defense has played light’s out in the weeks leading up to today’s contest.
All of the pressure is on the Chiefs today, and if the Titans can start fast and keep it close until the end then their wealth of playoff experience could turn into…uh-oh…here we go again.