Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs Pick 1/19/20

by | Jan 14, 2020 | nfl

Tennessee Titans (11-7 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (13-4 SU, 11-5-1 ATS)

AFC Championship

Date/Time: Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 3:05PM EST

Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri

TV: CBS

Point Spread: TEN +7.5/KC -7.5 (BetNow - Deposit $200 and get $100 FREE! Credit cards work!)

Over/Under Total: 52

The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium in the AFC Conference Championship Game on Sunday. The Titans are on the cusp of seeing a Cinderella story materialize, forging their way to the title game on the heels of two upset playoff wins. On Saturday, they went into Baltimore and laid the number one seed in the AFC to waste with a dominant 28-12 victory—their third straight must-win road game. The Chiefs started their playoff voyage auspiciously, falling behind 24-0, before rallying for a big 51-31 win and serving notice that they’re a major problem for anyone who needs to get by them. Who can cover the spread at Arrowhead this week in this high-stakes matchup?

The Titans’ Resume

Obviously, looking at this team as a 9-7 regular season squad has caused many people to miss the boat. You take their playoff wins on the road over the Patriots and Ravens and combine that with their must-win week 17 beating of Houston, and they’ve beaten some pretty good teams in the conference this season. But it’s their week ten win over the Chiefs in Nashville that offers real hope here. And sure, a lot has changed. The Chiefs have played better defense and actually haven’t tasted defeat since that game. But the Titans showed they can withstand a big game from Patrick Mahomes (446 yards) and still get to the winner’s circle. It’s not a question of whether the Titans can thrive at the highest levels of the AFC because they already have.

Will Henry Run Wild?

Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Henry already showed he could have one of those big days against them. With 188 yards in week ten, Henry carried the Titans on his back, just as he has done the last three weeks with a combined 588 yards on the ground. So you have a game-changing back who is in record-setting form who has already shown he can thrive against a KC run-defense that hasn’t been their strong-suit all season. It almost sounds too easy, and maybe it is. The Chiefs defense has been better—their 24-0 deficit early in the second quarter to Houston notwithstanding. And after three road-games of massive production after missing a game, will Henry start to wear down?

One Weapon Vs. Many Weapons

The Chiefs needn’t rely on one source of firepower, as they have a ton of different weapons upon which they can rely. First, you have the defending league MVP in Patrick Mahomes. You have different backs like Damien Williams, who had three TDs on Sunday. The best tight end in the business in Travis Kelce also had three TD grabs on the day. Tyreek Hill was relatively quiet, which just shows they even had more dimensions to unveil as they picked apart the Houston defense. Add guys like Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, and others, and it’s a full cast.

The thing is that Henry is the kind of singular weapon that can change the complexion of all facets of the game. Opposing offenses tighten up, not wanting to turn the ball back over into the hands of the marauding Henry. The Tennessee defense, a mid-pack unit with deficiencies that held them back all season, gets to sit on the sidelines and be at full-power. As a result, their considerable playmaking upside resonates. When Henry is doing his thing, it’s funny how things seem to fall into place so much better for the Titans on both sides of the ball.

Which Defense Can Step Up?

In the title game, we have two defenses that can and have been exploited this season. A 35-32 Titans win in week ten attests to the idea that this won’t be a defensive battle by any stretch. Tennessee, to their credit, took what appeared to be a defense not cut out for prime-time and has made it work wonderfully in the postseason, giving up a total of 25 points in two postseason road games. Kansas City, meanwhile, had seen their defense play a ton better down the stretch, giving up a total of 70 points in their last six regular-season games. It didn’t look like it as they fell behind 24-0 to Houston on Sunday, but in giving up just 7 points for the remaining near-three quarters of play, they started showing some of that form again.

This could come down to which “D” makes more plays, and that’s a tough one in which to give an edge to either team. Still, something about this matchup suggests it could come down to a big play on this side of the ball. With the Chiefs, it could come from a variety of sources. On Sunday, they saw a fierce pass-rush play a big role. Frank Clark is rounding into fearsome form, as his three sacks on Sunday show. Daniel Sorensen’s play was critical in helping orchestrate the rollicking comeback win. But the Titans have some ball-hawks of their own, with Kevin Byard, Kenny Vaccaro, and Logan Ryan both registering picks in the postseason. Jurrell Casey had two sacks on Saturday, while Harold Landry got to the QB, as well. Some of their leakiness at points in the season perhaps masked how much of a positive impact they can make when in a groove.

Take the Points on the Road Dog

Being on either side of this equation isn’t going to be a very comfortable feeling. The Chiefs have gotten their act together and have some battle-hardened grittiness after falling just short last season. But the Titans and Derrick Henry are hard to question after what they’ve done already in the postseason. I see this being a challenging game to call in many respects, as their first matchup this season suggests. I see a close match where having this many points will be the right way to go. I’ll take the Titans.

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