Titans' Mariota Struggling on Road
If you're looking for an angle in Saturday's Wild Card matchup between the Titans and the Chiefs in Kansas City, start with Tennessee's quarterback.
Marcus Mariota has performed substantially worse on the road this season compared to at home. In games started in Tennessee this season, Mariota has thrown eight touchdown passes and four interceptions. Those numbers aren't great, but when you contrast them with what he's done on the road, he looks like Joe Montana.
On the road this season, Mariota has thrown five touchdown passes to a whopping 11 interceptions. As a team, the Titans also average 1.6 turnovers per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL. According to Sports Insights, that number gets much worse on the road, as the Titans average 2.2 turnovers away from Nashville, which ranks 29th in the NFL. Yikes.
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Just from a turnover standpoint, the Titans-Chiefs Wild Card matchup on Saturday is a total mismatch. Kansas City turns the ball over less than any other team in the league at 0.7 times per game. That number shrinks slightly to 0.5 when the Chiefs are at home. Turnovers can often be the great equalizer in the NFL but if you're playing on the road and have a habit of turning the ball over, that spells trouble for a team attempting to win in a tough environment like Kansas City.
If you're looking for one positive for Tennessee, the Titans only allow 3.6 yards per rush, which ranks fourth in the NFL. If they can slow down Kareem Hunt and force Alex Smith to win in a one-deminsional offense, we have seen the Chiefs struggle to move the ball in previous postseasons. Furthermore, the Titans will face a Kansas City rush defense that ranks 31st in DVOA through 16 weeks. The Chiefs allow 4.3 yards per rush, which ranks 24th in the league.
According to oddsmakers from online sports book Bovada.lv, the Chiefs are now a 9-point home favorite to beat the Titans on Saturday afternoon. Tennessee opened as a 7-point road dog before the line climbed a full two points. As for the total, it opened at 44.5 and that's where it currently sits. Public bettors are currently backing the Chiefs.