The Kansas City Chiefs are gearing up to face the Tennessee Titans at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on “Sunday Night Football” in Week 9. It’s the first time these two teams have faced off since Tennessee’s 27-3 rout of the Chiefs in Week 7 of last year.
Chiefs Wire: Who would you rather have starting this game, Ryan Tannehill or Malik Willis?
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Titans Wire: It depends: if Tannehill is fully healthy, then him. It was clear Malik Willis was not ready last week in his first start, so Tannehill still gives this team the best chance to win. However, that changes if Tannehill’s mobility is limited or non-existent because of the ankle injury, as he’ll be a sitting duck if Tennessee’s inconsistent offensive line doesn’t provide sufficient pass protection.
Chiefs Wire: Outside of the 2019 AFC title game, the Titans have had a lot of recent success against Kansas City. What do you think is the reason behind that success?
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Titans Wire: In 2019, the Titans’ offense was good enough to run with any team in the NFL, including the Chiefs’. In 2021, the defense was the main reason why the Titans won, and more specifically, their pass-rush which gave Patrick Mahomes fits all day. Another performance like that will be key this week, as the Titans’ offense has been dreadful this year outside of Derrick Henry and can’t afford to get into a shootout. Overall, the Titans typically rise to the occasion against elite opponents, and in games where they aren’t expected to win. That has been a staple of the Mike Vrabel era, as has letdown games against bad teams.
Chiefs Wire: With AJ Brown gone to the Eagles, who do the Chiefs need to worry about in the passing game?
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Titans Wire: I mean, really nobody. Tennessee’s receivers have had a very difficult time getting separation, and that was true even before Treylon Burks and Kyle Philips went down to injury (both are on IR). This group is injured and just isn’t very good. The Titans need more out of Robert Woods, and an under-the-radar pass-catcher to keep an eye on is rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo, who has flashed but isn’t being utilized enough. All in all, the Titans’ wide receivers are probably their worst unit on the team. Speaking of A.J. Brown: he has more receiving yards than Titans wide receivers combined this season, and his three first-half touchdowns in Week 8 are two more than Titans wide receivers have totaled combined in seven games. Big yikes.
Chiefs Wire: Are there any standout rookies for Tennessee that Chiefs fans should know about?
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Titans Wire: I already mentioned Chig Okonkwo, but it remains to be seen if they’ll utilize him enough to make an impact. One rookie who has been utilized plenty is cornerback Roger McCreary, who lines up on the outside opposite Kristian Fulton as a starter. He’s a bit raw but has been good overall in his first season and there’s a lot of optimism surrounding his future. Rookie Nicholas Petit-Frere has also been good after unexpectedly winning the right tackle job in training camp over 2021 second-round pick, Dillon Radunz.
Chiefs Wire: Who wins this game and why?
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Titans Wire: The Titans’ defense always gives them a chance, but expecting the unit to hold the Chiefs to three points again just isn’t feasible. On top of that, the defense hasn’t proven it can stop an elite offense after getting its doors blown off in Week 2 against the Buffalo Bills. The Titans get a slightly better effort from their offense, but it isn’t enough to out-pace the Chiefs, who win. Chiefs 27, Titans 24.