Chiefs To Defeat Titans In Wildcard Round Opener

The NFL playoffs have arrived and the Wildcard Round kicks off as the Kansas City Chiefs host the Tennessee Titans at Arrowhead Stadium.

The Chiefs recovered from their mid-season slump to secure their place in the post-season. Andy Reid’s men won their final four matches of the season to lift the AFC West crown for the second campaign on the bounce.

Kansas City had a great start to the term, racing to a 5-0 record, including a brilliant victory over the New England Patriots in their opener on the road. However, they spurned their chance to make a charge for a bye by losing six out of seven matches during the mid-stretch of the term.

The club now have to battle their way through the Titans in the Wildcard Round and then potentially face two road matches to reach the Super Bowl.

Tennessee needed to beat the Jacksonville Jaguars to secure their place in the post-season. It was not a clean performance, but Mike Mularkey’s men did enough to advance. Quarterback Marcus Mariota made enough plays in the crucial moments to send his side over the line.

The Titans have been inconsistent throughout the season. They’ve had moments of brilliance such as defeating the Seattle Seahawks on home soil in the early stages of the campaign. However, Mularkey’s side have also had shocking moments, including back-to-back losses to the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers.

Tennessee defeated Kansas City in their contest at Arrowhead Stadium last season. The Titans scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to secure the victory, while Derrick Henry had a strong outing. Therefore the visitors should not be short of confidence heading into their first playoff game since the 2008 campaign.

Kansas City Chiefs

Will Smith guide the Chiefs to victory?

The Chiefs had a dream start to the campaign, defeating the defending Super Bowl champions in their own backyard when the battered the Patriots. Reid’s men channelled the momentum of their impressive victory into five wins on the bounce to surge ahead of their rivals in the AFC. Alex Smith was an MVP candidate and was connecting with ease with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill downfield. Kareem Hunt was running through opposing defenses at will, racking up yards on the ground. Kansas City looked almost unstoppable before their run was ended by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

The Steelers have owned the Chiefs in recent seasons and earned another close win at Arrowhead Stadium. A disastrous run of form followed, losing five out of their next six matches. The club lost four matches on the bounce to poor outfits as Smith struggled for form, while the defense allowed the New York Jets to score 38 points. Kansas City did find their form towards the end of the term, reeling off four victories to end the season. They were handed the AFC West crown due to an inept performance from the Los Angeles Chargers. Reid’s men capitalised on the struggles of their rivals to secure a home playoff match, but will need to improve.

Smith returned to a semblance of his best towards the end of the season before sitting for the final match. Should he find the form that he enjoyed at the start of the term, the Chiefs could run the table. However, inconsistency has dogged his career and he will need help from his team-mates to fire Kansas City forward. Hunt had two 100-yard games toward the end of the term and his running could be the crucial edge in the playoffs.

Tennessee Titans

Mariota has to be at his best

Source: AP Photo

The Titans have been up-and-down throughout the campaign. They had a chance to make a statement in the opener against the Oakland Raiders, only to suffer a defeat on home soil. However, Mularkey’s men put forward two fine performances to defeat the Jaguars and Seahawks in back-to-back matches. DeShaun Watson put 57 points on the board against Tennessee in a hammering at NRG Stadium before an injury to Mariota left his side exposed to a loss to the Miami Dolphins.

Mariota returned and although he was far from his best, the Titans won four-straight games. Tennessee were on course to win the AFC South before collapsing down the stretch, losing to the 49ers, Cardinals and the Los Angeles Rams. They performed well to beat the Jaguars in a must-win contest, which will give them confidence heading into the showdown with the Chiefs.

Reports suggest that Mularkey’s job could be in jeopardy should the club lose to Kansas City. This will be the Titans’ first playoff match since the 2008 season, but they have not won in the post-season since 2003. Ending Tennessee’s drought in the playoffs should certainly see the head coach remain in his position. The Titans managed to defeat the Chiefs in their last match at Arrowhead Stadium thanks to a late field goal from Ryan Succop.

The Titans’ defense has been plucky of late and could muster enough of a pass-rush to disrupt Smith and company. Their performance against the run has been stout and could limit Hunt’s effectiveness on the ground. The question is whether Mariota will be able to rise to the occasion. He has been poor this term, but he has the potential to cause problems when at his best.

Betting Options

The Chiefs are heavily favoured to win the contest and given their recent form it’s hard to look past Reid’s men. However, Tennessee’s victory last season will give them hope that they can produce an upset on the road. Every home team won in the Wildcard round last season and Arrowhead Stadium is one of the most formidable stadiums to travel to in the NFL.

Expect Smith and company to put enough points on the board to secure the victory and advance to the Divisional Round at odds of -370   with BetOnline. It will not be a complete blowout as the Titans’ defense should be able to limit the points. Therefore back the visitors to cover the +7.5 spread at odds of +100   with 888Sport.

Kansas City have scored over 25 points in their last four matches. Life will not be as easy against the Titans and their strong run defense, so back them to score under 26 points at odds of -105   with Betway. Tyreek Hill is a threat to score a touchdown every time he has the ball in hand. Back him to score anytime at odds of +120   with Betway.

Tips Summary

Kansas City Chiefs To Beat Tennessee Titans
Saturday 6th January 2018 16:35 ET (21:35 GMT)
Odds: -370

Take Tennessee Titans +7.5 Spread
Saturday 6th January 2018 16:35 ET (21:35 GMT)
Odds: +100

Kansas City Chiefs To Score Under 26 Points
Saturday 6th January 2018 16:35 ET (21:35 GMT)
Odds: -105

Tyreek Hill To Score Touchdown Anytime
Saturday 6th January 2018 16:35 ET (21:35 GMT)
Odds: +120

Alex Smith
Kansas City Chiefs
Marcus Mariota
Tennessee Titans

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