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Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs Point Spread - Pick

Tennessee Titans (9-7 SU, 8-7-1 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (10-6 SU, 10-6 ATS)
AFC Wild Card Playoff
Date/Time: Saturday, January 6, 2018 at 4:20PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
TV: ESPN

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TEN +7.5/KC -7.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5

The Tennessee Titans meet the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday in AFC Wild Card Playoff action. The Titans needed a win on Sunday and some other things to work out to get to this spot, their first postseason action in nearly a decade. A 15-10 week 17 over the Jaguars helped get them to this spot and it's not an easy one. The AFC West champion Chiefs are on a nice little roll of four straight wins that righted their ship and once again have them looming as a conference playoff threat. In week 17, they beat the Broncos, 27-24, for their tenth win. They look to make a deep run, but first have to beat a hungry Tennessee team. It should be a good one in this wild card game.

These teams have both had issues in getting to this spot. It hasn't been a smooth path since these teams met in the last week of preseason with the Chiefs posting a 30-6 win. It's doubtful how much that result even matters, as both teams have gone through a lot since that meeting. The Chiefs started red-hot, going 5-0 and looking like a real contender. Six losses in their next 7 games sent them crashing down with a hard thud. But four straight wins show they were able to turn it around. But there is still that feeling that they could lapse back into that funk, considering how suddenly it happened the first time.

For Tennessee, the season trajectory was similar in a sense, as an 8-4 start offered promise, before a funk threatened to ruin a good start. Three straight losses led to their week 17 game with the Jaguars, which they won partly due to the Jacksonville apathy, as they had nothing more to gain. But they won the game, got a little help, and here they are. They certainly didn't zoom into the postseason, but they showed some moxie in the final week and are an interesting X-factor, a team that can run the ball well and play defense. They're also a team that can fall flat on a given day and they hope Saturday isn't going to be one of them.

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Kansas City saw their offense playing better at the end of the season. Kareem Hunt ended up the leading rusher in the NFL in his rookie season. A rested Alex Smith, coming off his most-prolific season, will be looking to unleash Hunt, while working with a pair of ball catchers who were both over 1000 yards in TE Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Smith was over 4000 yards passing, with only 5 interceptions. WR Albert Wilson had a good season and Hunt was valuable in the aerial attack with nearly 500 yards. Hill is also a dangerous return man. This improved playmaking was a big part of the formula for success this season for the Chiefs.

The Kansas City defense is a mixed bag. As far as points allowed, they were average, but they allow a lot of yards and didn't really excel in any given area, other than making a lot of plays. Justin Houston is still a handful in the pass-rush, with Chris Jones getting after it, as well. They have a plus-15 in turnover ratio, aided by Marcus Peters' 5 interceptions and 4 by Terrance Mitchell. This defense scored three times this season. During the Chiefs' down-period this season when they lost 6 of 7 games, the defense wasn't very good. And while they can always lapse back into that form, they've steadied the ship over the last month of the season.

The Titans' offense is a bit of a concern heading into the postseason. They have a legit three-pronged run-attack that can do damage with blossoming Derrick Henry, DeMarco Murray (questionable), and QB Marcus Mariota, who is pretty adept with his legs. With 13 touchdowns and 15 picks, Mariota has had his share of struggles this season. Often times, the offense seems a bit stuck. With a good pass-catching back in Murray, a dangerous tight end in Delanie Walker, along with good receivers like Rishard Matthews, Eric Decker, Corey Davis, and others, you'd think they'd get more aerially, but that hasn't happened much. This is the playoffs and against the better teams they have played, putting up points has been a struggle. Can they find the right answers on Saturday?

The Tennessee defense shares some similarities to the Chiefs' "D." They aren't that rigid overall and will give up lots of yards and points along the way. But when they're "on," they make up for a general lack of stoutness with a playmaking element that can change games. With two picks on Sunday, S Kevin Byard led the league with 8 interceptions. Still, they had an overall minus-three in turnover ratio. They got a nice pass-rush from Derrick Morgan, Wesley Woodyard, Brian Orakpo, and Jurrell Casey. They are really strong up-front and at linebacker and have stopped the opposing run-game well this season. We'll see, however, if their secondary will be a playmaking one or the porous pass-defense we've seen undermine them at points this season.

This is a tough game for the Titans. Postseason action at Arrowhead is a bit of a different environment. Tennessee has done well, with a postseason berth after a long period of struggling representing how well they've turned things around. They are still stuck with a certain case of mediocrity that they haven't completely shaken free of yet. The Chiefs deserve credit for reversing what looked to be a locked-in downward spiral, but that swoon still makes them less-than-bankable. It's like this air of dysfunction lurks over them and could reveal itself at any given time. I don't think it will be this week. I see the Chiefs matching up well enough across different areas to give them the leg-up this week.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Kansas City Chiefs minus 7.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Titans-Chiefs wild card playoff game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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