The NFL’s big shootout this Sunday between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans is the first rematch of the 2019 AFC Championship Game. The Chiefs won that one 35-24 after falling behind by 10 points midway through the second quarter. The Titans are coming off a huge 34-31 win against the Bills on Monday night while the Chiefs won 31-13 in Washington on Sunday.
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans
Sunday, October 24, 2021 – 01:00 PM EDT at Nissan Stadium
The Chiefs (3-3 SU, 2-4 ATS) are a 4.5-point favorite at many of the top sportsbooks. When these teams met in Nashville in the 2019 regular season, the Titans (4-2 SU, 4-2 ATS) came back in that one to a 35-32 win after Derrick Henry rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs had a costly fumble and botched two field-goal attempts. Two years later, Henry is still dominating, and the Chiefs are still their own worst enemy. Can this be another classic AFC battle? Here are my predictions for the NFL Week 7 matchup between the Chiefs and Titans. Odds with Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)
Titans Offense vs. Chiefs Defense
Both offenses have a big advantage over the defenses in this game, but which one will have the bigger day? This side of the matchup is likely the crucial one that will best decide how this game turns out. The Titans are really undervalued as an offense this season due to injuries to A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, the two receivers who power this passing game to complement Henry’s dominant rushing consistency.
But the Buffalo game was essentially just the third full game this season where Brown and Jones played together. Brown had to overcome food poisoning to catch seven passes for 91 yards in the second half. Jones had a brilliant 48-yard catch on a deflected pass that will fit in nicely for his career highlight reel.
The Bills were unable to sack Ryan Tannehill or put much pressure on him. This would be a bad matchup for the Chiefs to again be without corner Charvarius Ward and pass rusher, Chris Jones. However, the Chiefs did shine on defense in Washington on Sunday, pitching a second-half shutout. It was the first time this season the Chiefs held an opponent under 29 points.
Granted, Washington was banged up at every level on offense, but the Chiefs were able to collect their first takeaways since the first quarter of Week 2 in Baltimore The Chiefs did not register a sack on Sunday, but they held Taylor Heinicke to 4.7 yards per pass.
The Titans have scored at least 33 points in two of the three games this season where Henry, Jones, and Brown were all full participants. Against a defense that does nothing well, the Titans should have plenty of opportunities for big plays in this one.
Chiefs Offense vs. Titans Defense
All perspective seems to have been lost in the way the Chiefs are covered this year. People are quick to point to a “down year” for Patrick Mahomes to explain Kansas City’s 3-3 start, but no offense averages more yards or points per drive than the Chiefs, and they are converting 60.3% of their third downs. No other offense is above 50.0%.
The Chiefs are still the most dangerous offense in the league. The problem is they are a danger to themselves as a league-high 22.8% of their drives end in turnovers. Mahomes already has more interceptions (eight) in six games than he had in all of 2019 (five) and 2020 (six).
The Chiefs had three turnovers in the second quarter alone in Washington on Sunday, but they still rebounded for a 31-13 win. Is it a problem that they fumble in the scoring territory as often as they do? Yes, but that’s not an actual blueprint to beating them. Was it bad when Tyreek Hill tipped a pass in the red zone for a pick, or when Mahomes fumbled a snap and panicked to throw a second pick before halftime? Yes, but those plays were more unlucky bounces than any flaws in the talent or design of the team.
Despite the turnovers, the Chiefs still scored 31 points with 499 yards, and they were 11-of-17 on third down. That kind of production is going to be hard to beat even with multiple takeaways. The Titans have just five takeaways in six games and were already thin in the secondary before a few more injuries on Monday night. If the Chiefs just protect the ball adequately, they should score at least 30 points in this one. The bigger problem will be seen if the defense can hold the Titans under 35.
Kansas City’s only two covers this year were its last two road games against two cupcakes (Eagles and Washington). While things have not been close lately for the Chiefs, the Titans have a habit of making games close in the fourth quarter. The Titans lead the NFL in fourth-quarter comeback wins (13) during coach Mike Vrabel’s tenure, including that 2019 comeback win over the Chiefs.
I think it’s a safe bet that Mahomes won’t lead the league in interceptions and the Chiefs will eventually see positive regression in turnovers while maintaining excellent scoring efficiency. But in a game like this where the defenses cannot be trusted, just one of those bad turnovers can swing the spread and the whole game.
While the Chiefs can get away with three turnovers in a quarter against Washington, the Titans are a tougher opponent. With Tannehill at quarterback, the Titans are 9-2 (both losses by three points) when they get multiple takeaways in a game.
My days of trusting the Chiefs to cover the spread against a quality opponent are on an indefinite hiatus. For my NFL picks, I am going to trust the Titans coming off the big win to at least get a cover in this one, even if it takes a 35-31 loss to do it.
*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.