A quick warning, this is a wordy article. If you want a shorter synopsis of the game I’ll be doing a preview for MrFixItstips.co.uk which will be around 1,000 words rather than this 4,000ish. I assume most people scan to the end to see the suggestions anyway, but I know a few read it all and pick out their own bets. Tbf, first 800 are a review of last weeks games.
So this is obviously the title matchup that we all expected coming into the playoffs, right? I mean we all saw the 6th seed Tennessee Titans would use Derrick Henry to smash their way through the current Superbowl champions and the #1 seed MVP-toting Baltimore Ravens, right? Well, I think a lot of people saw them dealing with the Patriots who haven’t looked good all year, but to go into Baltimore and win by the margin they did was very impressive.
That was a weird game though. The Titans were outgained by around 200 yards, Tannehill again threw for under 100 yards, 7 completions for 88 yards this week. But when you’ve got an unstoppable beast alien man at running back you don’t need to throw the ball. Unsurprisingly Derrick Henry set playoff records with over 175 yards in consecutive post season games, I think it was an NFL record hitting that mark in 3 consecutive games full stop as well, and when you can direct snap the ball to that creation and he can throw a jump pass touchdown for you as well, why bother doing anything else!
All credit to Tannehill as well, he may have only completed 7 passes but 35% of them were for TDs, the throw to Jonnu Smith in the corner of the endzone was great, and the catch was one of the best we’ve seen all year. The throw down the middle to a wide open Kalif Raymond was on the money as well.
But the key to this game was winning the key moments, much like they did on the goal-line stand before half time to the Patriots the week before, they stopped the Ravens twice on 4th downs, made interceptions at key points, and made key 3rd down throws themselves to keep the clock running. They did however give up the most passing yards of Jackson’s career, and allowed him to run for 143 on the ground as well.
The Baltimore run game is where they’ve been winning games this season and obviously the Ingram injury was more severe than either they might have believed as they went away from it far too easily for my liking, especially having got the game back to 10-6 at half time, they didn’t need to go away from what they’ve done all season, but it is what it is.
To emphasise the situational defense and how well/lucky they were in key spots; The Ravens had drives which finished at the Tennessee 36, 31, 4, 18, 31, 15, 16, 21. It’s really quite impressive that they didn’t score more than 12 points.
The Sunday saw the Chiefs have a roller-coaster game of their own. Much like the Ravens they coming off a bye they started incredibly rusty. They allowed a TD on the first drive of the game, as the Texans used a fake bubble screen which duped all 3 DBs on that side of the field leaving Kenny Stills wide open to take it to the house, the Chiefs went 3 and out on the back of that with Kelce dropping an easy pass which led to a blocked punt which was returned for a TD, and it was quickly 21-0 to the visitors as Tyreek “He’s back there because it’s an important moment” Hill muffed a punt and the Texans scored 2 plays later.
It should have got even worse for the Texans who stopped the Chiefs and made it down the field themselves again before the first terrible coaching call of the game. They knew how deadly the Chiefs offense was, but Bill O’Brien fucked about on 4th and 1 from the KC 13 yard line, lining up to go for it before taking a time out and changing his mind to a field goal. It put them 24-0 up, which against most teams would be fine, but the possibility to make it a 4 score game and not doing it will haunt B.O’B for a while. Two plays later the Chiefs were in the endzone and the game had swung.
It was the first of 7 (SEVEN) consecutive touchdown drives. Including scoring 3 TDs in 3 minutes and 24 seconds to somehow lead at half time after scoring 28 points in the second quarter, 21 of them coming from Travis Kelce catches as he took the game away from the Texans. Crazy shit. They finished the game without allowing points in the 4th quarter as the Texans chased the game.
Kelce abused poor Lonnie Johnson all game long and would have had even more than 10 catches for 124 and 3 TDs had it not been for some blatant DPI calls on him. The Texans secondary lost it completely for a while giving up quite a few big DPIs otherwise the Chiefs stats would have been even more impressive. Ever Sammy fucking Watkins had a couple of catches for 76 yards.
So, that’s a little look back in case you somehow weren’t aware of it, and hadn’t read any proper reviews of the games.
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Tennessee Titans +7 @ Kansas City Chiefs: Total – 52.5
Weather – Very cold (17f), no wind, no rain.
2005 UK Time kick off
Defensive DVOA – 21st vs pass, 10th vs run. Weighted – 20th
Offensive DVOA – 6th in passing, 5th in rushing. Weighted – 3rd
Now come on, surely the Titans can’t do it again? Situationally they’ve been near perfect the last fortnight, but they faced a blunt Patriots offense and a Ravens team who win by running the ball and aren’t built for coming from behind in a game. Am I disparaging what they’ve achieved in this playoffs? Maybe, and they deserve full credit for the two wins they’ve had, but this Chiefs team and the speed they can score at are a different kettle of fish.
I’ve got to imagine they’ll try the same game plan they’ve run with over the last two games, solid defense, get themselves a lead and run the game out allowing the fewest plays from the opposition as possible. I’m just not sure that works against a team who can score 28 points in one quarter of a game, but then again I thought the Ravens would rush out to a lead and it would take that game plan away last week and look how that turned out.
Ryan Tannehill. Turns out he’s pretty good. Since he took over from Marcus Mariota as the official starter in week 7 he had the highest passer rating, highest avg yards per pass, 3rd highest completion percentage and 4th most TD passes all whilst being 27th in pass attempts in that time (Thanks to @DomiNateFF on twitter for that) – That’s quite a remarkable turnaround from being bang average in Miami. It’s amazing what a change can do, and it should earn him a ton of cash (~25m a year if he’s franchised as expected) and the starting spot for the Titans next year.
Obviously their run through the playoffs hasn’t been entirely on him but he’s done what has been needed when it’s been needed, some key 3rd down pass completions and some money throws for TDs. His stats through the playoffs – 15 completions from 29 attempts for 160 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. It’s really quite remarkable that a combined 160 yards has allowed them to win two road games. That’s not happened since Terry Bradshaw when the Steelers had the Steel curtain. He’s good with his legs as well, rushing for 4 TDs during the season and scoring one last week as well with 209 yards this year.
The Titans are here on the back of Derrick Henry. He became the first RB in history to have 180+ yards rushing in 3 consecutive games, the first to have 175+ in consecutive playoff games and has topped 100 yards in 7 of his last 8 games (a shitty 86 in the other one) He scored 16 rushing TDs during the season, one in the playoffs so far although he did throw for one against the Ravens last week. His last three games… 96 carries for 588 yards at 6.1 yards per carry. That’s just ridiculous.
The plan will surely be to do similar in this game and against a run defense which ranks 29th (or 4th worst) against the run they may well be able to do it. I do think a lot depends on whether the Chiefs get out to a big lead or not though. Dion Lewis is also on the roster but does very little, 363 combined yards and 1 score this year for him, the Chiefs are poor vs pass catching backs but I still don’t think Lewis is relevant.
I usually move on to wide receivers, but I think the tight ends deserve the first mention with Tannehill under center. They’ve accounted for 8 of 15 completions and 63 of 160 yards this postseason for Tannehill and 2 of his 3 thrown TDs. One of Smith, Firkser or Pruitt scored in 5 of the Titans last 6 games including these two post season matches. Jonnu Smith is the favoured target of the three, he finished with 439 yards in the regular season and pulled off one of the best catches you’ll see all year against the Ravens last week, a spectacular one handed catch landed by a butt cheek along the side of the end zone. They’re all big fuckers but Smith is the most physically talented and has even got involved in the run game.
The wide receivers are led by rookie AJ Brown who had a brilliant second half to his first year in the league going over 1,000 yards with over 100 yards in 4 of their last 6 regular season games and 8 TDs over the season. The post-season hasn’t been quite as spectacular due to the run heavy game plan, 13 yards from 2 receptions isn’t exactly what I was expecting from him but from what we saw he’s a very tough man to stop when he gets going, and can go up and get the ball from most corners in the league, if they need to throw the ball I’ve got to think they’ll look for him first.
Corey Davis won me money when they drafted him as the first WR off the board three years back but has failed to live up to his high draft pick on the whole scoring just twice last season and putting up 600 yards. It leaves him at just 6 TDs in 42 games for the Titans. That’s terrible especially for someone who came in as a TD threat. The incomparable Tajae Sharpe is the WR3 for this team, he doesn’t get a whole lot of targets but seems to have improved this season with Tannehill, he scored 4 times during the season but has 5 targets, 1 reception for 6 yards in the playoffs.
Kalif Raymond actually leads the team in receiving yards in the post-season with 45 from his TD catch last week, he’s obviously got the speed and put a great move on the Ravens CB to get free downfield last week, he had 9 catches from 12 targets averaging nearly 19 yards per reception and 1 TD during the regular season. They’ve played a lot of this season without Adam Humphries who was thought by many as the most likely target leader for them this year, the release valve for the offense, he’s questionable for this week having not played since the start of December, so I’ve got to assume he’s out again.
Defensively during the playoffs they’ve been winning at key moments. They (mainly Rashaan Evens who’s had a brilliant season) stopped the Pats at the goal-line and kept them to three before half time in that one, then iced the game with a pick 6 in that one, and this week against the Ravens they stopped a couple of 4th and 1s and restricted the highest scoring team in the league to 4 field goals. It was really damn impressive, pure bend-don’t-break defense. Whether that will be good enough against Patrick Mahomes on his own ground only time will tell, but they’ve been mighty impressive in both their playoff wins so far. A point of note given the opposition; They were 5th worst against the tight end during the season allowing 9 TDs and the 7th most yards to that position.
Defensive DVOA – 6th vs pass, 29th vs run. Weighted – 13th
Offensive DVOA – 2nd in passing, 14th in rushing. Weighted – 5th.
The Chiefs are now the favourites for the Superbowl and I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to attack them. The auto-play this week seems to be to tease the Chiefs and the 49ers down to 1 points and 1.5 point favourites and I can’t say I’m against it at 5/6 on Redzone or 365 and it may well be something I recommend this week. It looks like the Chiefs would be a 1 point favourite against the 49ers in the Superbowl, so if you think it all goes to plan and they both make the big dance then you can get 3.10 for Chiefs beating the 49ers in the final. 3.4 for the 49ers over the Chiefs. So profit either way.
Anyways, you might have heard of Patrick Mahomes. He didn’t throw for 50 TDs and 5,000 yards this year and wouldn’t have done even if he had played all 16 games, but he looked as good as ever last week against the Texans. Just the 26 TDs and over 4,000 yards this year. Only 1 game this year without a TD pass. He suffered from a couple of injuries in the middle of the season, an ankle sprain before dislocating his knee against Denver in October. Amazingly considering the grossness of the injury he was back a fortnight later. Against this very same Tennessee Titans. He had a great game against them with 446 yards, 3 TDs and a passer rating well over 100 and his highest amount of completions of the season with 36.
Last week was the second time this season he’s thrown for 4 TDs in a quarter. The last time was against the Raiders. He took the game away from the Texans completely, not just throwing for the 5 TDs, but on the ground as well as he finished as the teams leading rusher. The first quarter wasn’t on him at all and he didn’t once look flustered when they were 24-0 and the throw to Damien Williams on the first TD could have been caught without him even turning around it was bang on the money.
Damien Williams struggled for a lot of the year with injuries. He missed 5 games before coming back for the last couple of games of the season and he’s shown pretty much what they missed all season. He’s not the best RB in the league but he fits with this scheme and they’re a lot more effective with him in the side. He finished with near enough 500 and 5 TDs on the ground in his 11 games as well as a couple of scores through the air as well. Last week basically typified his season as he finished with 3 total TDs. Not a whole lot of yardage, but doing what’s required of him when it is.
Lesean McCoy and Darwin Thompson both tried to fill in for Williams when he was out, and despite McCoy knowing Andy Reids system and Darwin being highly touted during the off-season it just didn’t really click for either of them at RB. McCoy had a few fumbles and doesn’t seem to be trusted any more as Williams was on the field for every offensive snap last week, Thompson and McCoy only had 1 snap each on offense.
We’ll go tight end again. Travis Kelce has been a beast this year and showed it fully last week as he had 3 TDs in the second quarter of the game. He finished the game with a slight hamstring sprain but with 134 yards and 3 TDs from 12 targets. He’s been practising this week so I’ve got to assume he’ll be good to go for this one. He’s the main target for the team and he usually stands up to be counted when needed, though 5 TDs for the regular season was a bit on the low side for him in general.
Tyreek Hill might not be the most chivalrous person on the planet, he might not be the best parent there is either, but he’s a heck of a wide receiver. I won’t lie I was quite happy when he got injured earlier in the season, some people deserve a bit of karma. It meant he missed 4 games which hurt the overall flow of the season for the Chiefs but they had players who stepped up to fill in for him so they figured a way around him. He didn’t have the best of numbers last week but got smashed when trying to make a pass, had a couple of plays off after that and didn’t get targeted much thereafter, fortunately his pace means he makes a good decoy for them. Mecole Hardman was drafted this year and is a poor mans Tyreek at the moment, possessing great speed he was voted into the pro bowl roster as the kick returner and his long take back last week helped swing momentum in his teams favour. He finished annoyingly short of his yardage line though. Which sucks for us.
Sammy Watkins is a frustrating player and he has been for his whole career in both Buffalo and KC. He scored 3 times in the regular season. All of them in the opener so it’s safe to say he can’t be trusted for anything although he passed his yardage line last week in 2 receptions. Of course. The prick. Demarcus Robinson stepped up when Hill was out but hasn’t done a whole lot in the offense since his return. He brought in 1 of 4 targets for 4 yards last week, and after his one big game in the regular season (172 and 2 vs the Raiders) he had games of 56,43,35 and averaged about 25 yards per game for most of the season. They’re probably the 4 main guys, then you’ve got the like of Byron Pringle who had 5 offensive snaps last week. That’s about it for the wide receivers.
The Chiefs have improved markedly on defense finishing the regular season 6th vs the pass with Tyrann Mathieu and rookie Juan Thornhill proving good pickups over the summer. Daniel Sorenson made some key tackles last week, notably on the fake punt which was actually a fairly decent play that he read well and made an open field tackle. They look like they’ll be without Chris Jones again this week, he was their best pass rusher during the season and a big loss, another big free agent acquisition Frank Clark stepped up with 3 sacks with him out last week.
Fuck me, even the summary turned into a billion words.
Bad spot for the Titans with their 4th consecutive road game, and essentially their 4th consecutive playoff game as they were win and in vs the Texans.
These teams met during the regular season with the Titans pulling off an unexpected win in Mahomes return from a dislocated kneecap, while not fully fit he did more than enough for his team to win the game, and they had a 97% chance of doing that with a couple of minutes left before Tannehill found Humphries with 23 seconds left for the Titans to win 35-32. There was a defensive TD in there as the Titans returned Williams fumble for 6. Much like the playoffs for the Titans so far they managed to win a game after being out-gained by around 200 yards in a game.
Derrick Henry is obviously the key in this one. He rushed for 188 yards and 2 TDs in that week 10 matchup. The Titans managed to keep the game close so they were able to use Henry all they wanted. Whether they’ll be able to do that in this one I’m not sure. I think it’s likely that no matter the score they’ll keep running Henry for at least the first half especially against a team who’s run defense has been poor this season. If the Chiefs manage to slow him down, or get out to a 2 score lead then it could well change the whole game.
I was looking to go over on Tannehill yards, but the books haven’t reacted as I had thought and I can’t take the over on 230 yards. Conversely I don’t want to take the under as if the game goes as I expect he’ll have to throw more. The whole game-flow thing actually makes this a very tough game to bet on.
Jonnu Smith receptions is tempting again. It’s plus money on him getting over 2.5 receptions again, at 2.25 on Bet365. Of the 7 completions last week, he had 2 of them. Will AJ Brown be needed in this one? He’s 1.76 for over 3.5 receptions his yards at 64.5. The Chiefs were poor at covering receptions from the backfield and the Titans have shown they will use the odd screen pass to get Derrick Henry the ball, so over 10.5 receiving yards for him doesn’t seem too bad at 1.86 on 365.
A weird stat that’s popped up in a couple of places this week is the lack of Field Goals the Titans take. They’ve not kicked one since week 15, and not scored one since week 13. Since being activated from the practise squad in December Greg Joseph hasn’t even attempted a field goal. In large part that’s due to the Titans crazy red zone efficiency, they scored a TD on 78% of red zone possessions during the regular season and have one on every RZ trip in the post-season. On the team props page on 365 you can get 1.80 on the Titans having under 1.5 Field goals, or 4.33 on them having under 0.5 field goals. Add to that the fact that they’ll probably know they need to score TDs to put pressure on the Chiefs and there’s probably a decent chance they don’t kick many in this one.
A spin-off on the field goal stat above, which is a little more risky given how big a leg Harrison Butker has for the Chiefs is the longest field goal to be under 47.5 yards. Cold games usually mean fewer field goals, and the ball doesn’t travel as far in general. Another spin-off – Team to have the first goal – KC Chiefs – 1.85 on PP.
Derrick Henry has scored a TON of short yardage TDs this year, and the Titans on the whole have scored a TD from inside the 1 in 16 of their 18 games so far. It’s 1.80 for the shortest TD of the game to be scored from 1.5 yards of shorter.
It looks like Redzone are the only place differentiating on props, they’re 19.5 on Tannehill completions, 16.5 elsewhere. AJ Brown is 11 yards difference.
Summary of the summary.
Chiefs win. Chiefs cover. If you like the Titans then I think you’ve got to take them to win by 1-6 (4.00). I can see the Chiefs winning by over 14 though (2.63)
Bets; (2 pt stake unless stated)
I’ve got to play 6 point teaser with the Chiefs and 49ers. (Can do this on Redzone and 365) – It comes to 1.83 for that double. Which is better than the 1.72 if you get them to the same prices on Alternate totals.
- Chiefs and 49ers – 6 point teaser – 1.83 – 5 points stake.
- Titans to have u1.5 field goals – 1.80 (365)
- Jonnu Smith o2.5 receptions – 2.25 (365/888)
- Ryan Tannehill o1.5 passing TD – 2.20 (365) – It’s hit in 10/12 since he took over.
This is tough, there’s some decent odds on Titans players – Tannehill at 6/1 on 365, Firkser scored against the Chiefs in the regular season – 11/1 on 888/Uni (70/1 for 1st scorer on 888). Even Jonnu at 7/2 (Will Hill) is decent value really. Mecole Hardman is probably the value on the Chiefs at 4/1 on Hills, he’ll get a couple of receptions and you get paid on kick return scores as well.
Williams, Hill, Kelce and Henry are all odds-on. Obviously you’ve gotta like Henry to score, but I won’t have anything at 1.66 (365)
- Ryan Tannehill anytime – 7.00 (365)
Good Luck with whatever you’re on, should be a cracking Sunday of football.