Chiefs at Titans: What to watch

Friday, October 22, 2021, Vol. 45, No. 43

The Titans are in the midst of a tough stretch of games, first with the Buffalo win and then the Kansas City Chiefs on a short week. The Chiefs, despite a 3-3 record, are a tough out and a top contender.

First down

Try to contain Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is still the most dynamic quarterback in the league with his arm and athleticism, but he has thrown eight interceptions this year in six games. That’s a bit unusual, and the Titans could greatly benefit if they can get a turnover or two.

Second down

Slow Travis Kelce. More so than Tyreek Hill or any other weapon at Mahomes’ disposal, Kelce is the one Chiefs player who has been a matchup nightmare for the Titans. Most fans who watched their playoff game in 2018 still remember how the game changed when Kelce went out with an injury.

Third down

Balance the pass and the run. Everyone knows that things are going to run through Derrick Henry on offense. But the key for Todd Downing to make the Titans offense as successful as possible is to mix in the right amount of passes from Ryan Tannehill to his receivers. Play-action is the bread and butter of the passing game, but in the first half, when teams especially load the box, the Titans have to be able to pass to set up the run, the way they did two weeks ago versus Jacksonville.

Fourth down

Win special teams. The Titans seemingly have solved their kicking woes, and they hope punter Brett Kern – out first with a groin injury and then landing on the COVID list – will return soon. That said, the Chiefs have speed everywhere and that means a big plus on special teams in the return game. The Titans could use a big play or two in the kicking game and return game against Kansas City.