Tennessee Titans (7-6 SU, 5-8 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (10-3 SU, 4-9 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: TEN +5/KC -5
Over/Under Total: 43
The Tennessee Titans come to Arrowhead Stadium to face the Kansas City Chiefs in key AFC week 15 action. Kansas City last played on Thursday Night Football and scored a major 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders in an AFC West battle of top teams. The win allowed KC to complete the season sweep on Oakland and take share of first, as they now hold the cards with the tiebreaker sewn up. It was their 8th win in 9 games and this is their second game of a 3-game home-stretch where they look to strengthen their case as a conference contender. The Titans, meanwhile, were able to get to 7-6 last week with a huge 13-10 win over the Broncos. Now with a share of the first-place lead in the AFC South, the Titans look to close strong and make a run at the postseason—not bad for a team that won a combined five games in their last two seasons.
The Chiefs are a difficult team to describe. On one hand, we see a team devoid of star-power that is ranked 22nd in offense and 26th in defense. Then on the other hand, we see a first place team on a roll—one that has amazingly won 20 of their last 23 regular season games. To appreciate the full scope of what the Chiefs have been able to do, one must look behind the still. They have a winning spirit. They play great situational football, and typically thrive when the moments become urgent. They are well-coached and the big plays always seem to surface when most needed—on both sides of the ball.
The Kansas City defense has been exploited at times this season, particularly on the ground. But against Oakland, a team that has built its success on late-comebacks, we saw nothing of the kind. This defense can tighten up considerably when required. They have an ample pass rush, led by Dee Ford, Justin Houston, and Tamba Hali. In the secondary, Marcus Peters is a major playmaker, as is Eric Berry. This defense has made huge plays this season and has scored 4 touchdowns on the season. Against Atlanta, Berry basically won the game for them and they have heavily impacted other games, as well.
The Kansas City offense is led by Alex Smith, a long under-appreciated force in this league. He is one of the more-efficient quarterbacks in the NFL. And he makes it work with a line that doesn't always offer him the best protection, along with skill players where there is not a star in the bunch. Spencer Ware carries a big load, while Travis Kelce is one of the more productive tight ends in the conference. Albert Wilson, Chris Conley, and returning Jeremy Maclin are valuable pieces. But giving this team a nice danger-element is the development of rookie Tyreek Hill, who has really been key lately. Against Oakland, his TD reception from Smith and punt return for a TD was the difference in the game. With the loss of Jamaal Charles and a lack of spark on offense, Hill is giving the aerial and return games some fire lately that could really pay off.
The Titans really needed that win over the Broncos on Sunday. After a 1-3 start, the Titans have gone on a 6-3 run in their last nine games—one of their most successful runs in years. Against the Broncos, a team that was 8-4 heading into the game, the Titans saw their defense win the day, keeping the Broncos off the board until well into the 4th quarter. With the Top Denver defense forcing the Tennessee offense into a slow game, the defense really came up big, as they secured a few turnovers and rushed the passer well.
Against Denver, quarterbacks don't tend to have great days and Marcus Mariota was no different on Sunday with just 88 yards through the air. But the young QB has matured this season, making fewer mistakes and taking what the game gives him. He hasn't thrown an interception since week nine and is making good use of a blossoming run-game. Between Mariota, DeMarco Murray, and rookie Derrick Henry, the Titans are one of the best rushing offenses in the league. All three were productive on the ground on Sunday against the Broncos in the big win. When Mariota takes to the air, he has talented players like Rishard Matthews, TE Delanie Walker, Tajae Sharpe, and Kendall Wright.
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The Tennessee defense is by no means infallible. Against opposing aerial attacks, they've been fairly vulnerable. Naturally, that's less of an issue when playing teams like Denver and this week against the Chiefs. They have been exceptionally solid against the opposing run-game, ranked third in the league. The pass-rush was pretty solid against Denver and Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan have been getting after it this season. Perrish Cox and Jason McCourty have made plays in the secondary.
The Titans are up against it this week against a Kansas City team that doesn't have a lot of off-weeks in a stadium that is among the more difficult to play in. And for southern-based teams heading north to play, weather is now a concern, as it should be pretty cold in KC this Sunday. For a team that manages to show the wherewithal necessary to go from the bottom of the league to being tied for first in the division in overnight fashion, it's important to take the Titans' character into consideration. They won't be easy to derail now that they're on a roll. With a tough Titans defense against a KC offense that struggles to fire, I picture a close game. I'll take the points.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Tennessee Titans plus 5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Tennessee vs. Kansas City game from the comfort of your own home by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!