SERIES HISTORY: 49th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead the series, 27-21. The Titans won the last meeting, 26-10 in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Chiefs won the prior two matchups.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
A look at the statistics piled up in 13 games by the Kansas City Chiefs provides a capsule of the 2016 season. That look will leave many people scratching their heads and wondering how Andy Reid's team has 10 wins, the top spot in the AFC West and the second-best record in the conference.
It doesn't make numerical sense. But then, no matter how popular analytics are in professional sports and the NFL, digits do not define a team. Maybe it's due to the odd shape of the ball itself, but in football there are a lot of funny bounces, and stats do not always explain the story.
The 2016 Chiefs are No. 24 in offense, averaging 332.5 yards per game. They are No. 27 in defense, at 374.1 yards per game. Those numbers leave K.C. in the bottom 25 percent of the league.
It was two seasons ago when the Titans rolled into Arrowhead Stadium and flew back to Nashville with a 26-10 victory. The way the Chiefs played that day was the script for Kansas City unhappiness. They ran for just 67 yards and gave up four sacks, and quarterback Alex Smith threw three interceptions. Any combination of those negatives would make it hard for the Chiefs to grab a playoff-clinching victory against the Titans.
Much like they did against Denver, the Titans' plan of attack on offense will center around DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry. The Titans chewed up the Broncos for 180 rushing yards and would like to do the same against the Chiefs to neutralize their potent pass rush.
The other part of that edict will be to avoid turning the ball over, as the Chiefs have 25 takeaways and the third-best turnover ratio in the NFL. Defensively, the Titans will probably see a little better rushing attack from the Chiefs than last week, but stopping the run and not giving up big plays through play action will be key.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
--Titans P Brett Kern vs. Chiefs PR Tyreek Hill. Hill is a dangerous weapon in the return game, and the Titans have had lapses in coverage at times. Kern will need to directional punt and perhaps use his "knuckleball" kick in order to help neutralize Hill's return talents.
--Titans RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry vs. Chiefs ILBs Ramik Wilson and D.J. Alexander. The loss of leading tackler Derrick Johnson to a ruptured Achilles tendon makes the task of handling the potent Tennessee run game even tougher. The Titans have averaged 143.7 rushing yards over the last seven games, while the K.C. defense is giving up 130 over its last seven. Last Sunday, Murray and Henry led the Titans to 180 rushing yards against Denver, while the Chiefs gave up 135 to Oakland. Wilson and whoever else might work on the inside for the Kansas City defense must be able to handle the Titans' offensive line and running backs.
SUNDAY TEAM REPORT:
--Out: LB Sean Spence (ankle)
--Questionable: LB David Bass (groin), DT Jurrell Casey (foot), DT Karl Klug (Achilles)
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
--Out: CB Phillip Gaines (knee), LB Derrick Johnson (Achilles)
--Questionable: LB Justin Houston (illness, knee), DE Kendall Reyes (wrist)
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce. Over the last four games, Kelce has been the most productive part of the Kansas City offense, averaging seven catches for 112 yards. But he has no touchdowns. Offensive scoring for the Chiefs is down in the second half of the 2016 season -- just eight touchdowns over the last five games. The last time Kelce reached the end zone was in Oct. 30 against Indianapolis. The K.C. offense needs to start using its No. 1 tight end more often in the red zone.
Titans QB Marcus Mariota has 21 passing TDs and three interceptions in the past eight games. He's tied for second in the AFC with 25 TD passes.
Titans RB DeMarco Murray ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,444 scrimmage yards and is tied for fourth with 12 TDs (nine rushing, three receiving). Since 2014, he leads the NFL in rushing yards (3,682) and is tied for first with 28 rushing TDs.
Titans TE Delanie Walker had a receiving TD in the last meeting and has four receiving TDs in the past six road games. He's tied for the lead among NFL TEs with six receiving TDs.
Chiefs QB Alex Smith passed for 264 yards and a TD last week. He aims for his third straight game with 10 yards per pass attempt.
Chiefs RB Spencer Ware ranks fifth in the AFC with 99.3 scrimmage yards per game.
Chiefs TE Travis Kelce is one of three TEs in NFL history with 100 receiving yards in four consecutive games. He leads NFL tight ends with 70 catches and 916 yards.
If the Chiefs win out, they'll take the AFC West and earn a first-round bye. The Titans have become one of the NFL's surprise teams, as they are tied for the AFC South lead with three games left. The absence of Chiefs LB Derrick Johnson could play into Tennessee's hands and lead to a big day for RB DeMarco Murray, but it's hard to bet against Kansas City at home.
OUR PICK: Chiefs, 20-17.