The Tennessee Titans’ 2017 season was in danger of spinning out of control. Fortunately for them, quarterback Marcus Mariota was able to turn into the skid and get his team into the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He’ll have the chance to extend his season by at least one more week when the Titans travel west for a Wild Card Round showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs. The AFC rivals meet on Saturday, and kickoff is set for 4:35 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN (live stream).
The Chiefs blasted out to the top of the NFL’s power rankings with a 5-0 start that included victories over the No. 1 seeds in both the AFC and NFC, but a 1-6 midseason swoon put their postseason hopes in question. Both the Raiders and Chargers challenged for the AFC West crown, but Kansas City closed out its season with a four-game winning streak to reclaim the September swagger that made the team so dangerous.
Now the Titans have to figure out how to beat the Chiefs back into their November form if they want to win their first playoff game since the 2003 season.
- Time: 4:35 p.m. ET
- Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Mo.
- TV: ESPN/ABC
- Streaming: WatchESPN
- Odds: Kansas City is favored by 9 points.
In the first two seasons of Mariota’s career — and even his entire collegiate career at Oregon — he never finished a game with three or more interceptions. But in a 40-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in November, he threw four picks.
He had eight interceptions over a four-game span and finished the season with a career-high 15 interceptions.
That was exactly the case in a 26-15 win over the Oakland Raiders in Week 14.
Kansas City dominated every aspect of the game with more than 400 yards of total offense, and even though the Raiders attempted to pull off a fourth-quarter comeback, the Chiefs still easily outgained Oakland’s offense.
Mahomes was given a year to acclimate. By all indications, he has exceeded the expectations of the coaches for his redshirt season. Sunday, we all learned that to be true. Mahomes showed out Sunday. With a lineup held together by the bottom of the roster, on the road, in the cold, against a good defense, Mahomes showed all the tools we hoped he could translate to the NFL. He was poised. He was accurate. He made mostly good decisions. He showed his other-worldly arm talent.
Will Kareem Hunt be ready to show out in his first playoff game?
Hunt’s ability to gash defenses both on the ground and through the air made him the catalyst behind the Chiefs’ 5-0 start. He gained 100-plus yards from scrimmage in each of the team’s first seven games, but he struggled during the team’s downturn — bottoming out with just 26 yards in a Week 12 loss to the Bills. He bounced back in a big way as Kansas City rebounded, gaining 206 total yards in a victory against the Chargers that all but sealed the West title. That’s the kind of player the Chiefs need to see Saturday to outrun the Titans.
Some games are easier than others. This is one of them. All seven human experts and OddsShark’s computer took the Chiefs in their Wild Card Weekend picks.