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Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs Point Spread - Pick

Tennessee Titans (11-7 SU, 10-7-1 ATS) vs. Kansas City Chiefs (13-4 SU, 11-5-1 ATS)
AFC Conference Championship Game
Date/Time: Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 3:05PM EST
Where: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: TEN +7.5/KC -7.5
Over/Under Total: 52

The Tennessee Titans come to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday for a high-stakes showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC title game. The stakes get no bigger—with the winner getting to the Super Bowl with a chance at glory. And for either of these teams, it would be huge, as the Titans are going for their first ever championship, while the Chiefs are looking to get into the Super Bowl for the first time since the very early days of the game, their last appearance being in 1970. Both teams did great things to get here. In the divisional round, the Titans shocked the top-seeded Ravens, 28-12, on Saturday to get here. The Chiefs, meanwhile, beat the Texans, 51-31, a routine-enough looking score until one realizes the Chiefs overcame an early 24-0 deficit to win going away. Who can come out on top here?

Earlier season results can be misleading. But the fact that these teams played in week ten carries some importance. It was the last game the Chiefs lost this season, with the Titans posting a nice 35-32 win. It showed the Titans can hang in there. Things have changed. The KC defense has played a lot better and they're just in better form overall with 7 straight wins since. But it's not like the Titans aren't in fine form either. With wins over the Pats, Ravens, and Chiefs this season, they've shown they can hang with the conference elite. And Derrick Henry was huge with 188 yards in that game, so there's that to consider, as well.

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This is a strange season. Looking at the four teams remaining, only the Chiefs were on most people's lists of teams to make it this far. A lot of unexpected results have come down the pike—even in the postseason. In scoring two upsets in the playoffs already in beating AFC powers like New England and Baltimore, the Titans are on a Cinderella run, bolstered by the otherworldly play of Derrick Henry, as he runs roughshod over the opposition. But can they win their fourth straight must-win road game this week against a red-hot Chiefs' team? Doubting them has already come at a steep price for some.

When looking at the Titans, it's easy to get distracted and preoccupied by what appears to be a lot of liabilities. Over the course of the season, their defense was fairly-exploitable, especially against the pass, while not being that great against the run. either. Ryan Tannehill did great stepping in for Marcus Mariota, which was a gutsy move by head coach Mike Vrabel, seeing it pay off wonderfully. Tannehill is great under pressure and the cool hand you need in spots like this. But the Tennessee aerial attack is pretty lackluster, as illustrated by Tannehill's combined 160 yards of passing in two playoff games.

But Derrick Henry has taken a sad song and made it better. The 2019 rushing champion stepped up the last three weeks, with the Titans needing to win all those games to get here. In three weeks, the man has rushed for 588 yards. It goes beyond the mere production that Henry is providing. It allows Tennessee to control games. It keeps their defense off the field. It cools the jets of the opposing offense. It wears down defenses. It brings the best out of both sides of the ball. The offense runs smoothly. And it allows some shortcomings on the defense to be better camouflaged, where their playmaking ability comes more to the surface. Doing it against Houston in the season-finale and New England in the Wild Card game is one thing. To take it on the road again versus a really good Baltimore "D" shows this can work anywhere.

The divisional win for the Chiefs over the Texans on Sunday showed the good and bad of the Chiefs team. In falling behind 24-0, their offense was stale, as the defense became easy pickings for Deshaun Watson and the Houston offense. But this Chiefs team is different, battle-hardened from the ups and downs in high-stakes games over the last couple of seasons. And they responded, with the Kansas City offense becoming unstoppable, taking Houston right out of the game as they scored touchdowns on every possession from the second quarter onward.

On Sunday, we saw that despite a strong close to the season, the Chiefs' defense can still struggle on occasion. By the same token, let's also commend that side of the ball for the big turnaround on Sunday, as it wasn't just the offense that turned it around. A defense that looked like a slapstick-unit in the first 15 minutes of play tightened up commendably, with a slew of plays helping turn the tide. They started bringing pressure and Frank Clark delivered with three sacks. And after being lit up in the first quarter, they allowed just ten points in the final three quarters of play. And for the purposes of this matchup, most of that was through the air. Houston couldn't get their run-game going, though playing from behind figured into that. Can Henry do better? On paper, it would appear the Chiefs being 26th against the rush this season could hurt them here, as it did the first time they faced Henry.

A bigger concern for Tennessee might just be the Chiefs' offense, a unit capable of exploding without any notice. Now completely healthy, Patrick Mahomes was on fire on Sunday after a slow start, running this Chiefs' offense smoothly. He threw five touchdowns, but his aptitude goes beyond numbers, as one needs to see it to really grasp the true value of Mahomes. Both Damien Williams and Travis Kelce had three touchdowns apiece. Add aerial weaponry like Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins to the mix and you have the full package. Throw in role guys like Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson, it's going to be a lot for the Titans to contain.

I don't want to be wrong about Tennessee three weeks in a row. That's a hard pill to swallow to just completely miss the boat on a rising team, as they're clearly doing something right. They have the touch of magic—a team that almost miraculously peaked at just the right time. But the Chiefs aren't yesterday's news like the Patriots, nor are they likely to put forth a complete dud of a game like Baltimore did last week. Still, we see a big number and to boil it all down, I'm just not prepared to lay the big numeral against this Tennessee team and Derrick Henry. Not anymore. I'll take the points.

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

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