Titans could be live dog vs. Chiefs
Public bettors are fading the Titans ahead of their NFL Wild Card matchup against the Chiefs but does Tennessee have value as an underdog?
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 when the two teams kick off the 2017-18 NFL playoffs.
It's understandable that public bettors would fade the Titans in this matchup. They're one of only two playoff teams with a negative point differential and they played one of the easiest schedules in the NFL, yet barely squeaked into the playoffs. Marcus Mariota has also been brutal on the road this season and simply put, Tennessee hasn't passed the eye test.
That said, there are several reasons why the Titans are a live dog today. For starters, their rush defense is fourth overall in yards per game and yards allowed per carry. They can contain Kareem Hunt and the Kansas City rushing attack, which would force the Chiefs to be one dimensional. We've seen Alex Smith struggle to throw downfield as soon as the calendar turns to January and the Chiefs play conservatively, they'll leave the Titans in the game.
Furthermore, the Chiefs have had issues slowing down opponents' running games this season. They rank dead last in the NFL in rush defense DOVA, so Derrick Henry should find plenty of running room for Tennessee. If the Titans can play a ball control offense then they can limit possessions and scoring opportunities for a much more dangerous Kansas City offense.
The Chiefs have also struggled in the red zone, scoring touchdowns on just 42% of their drives inside the 20. That ranks 20th in the league and it's the worst mark among all playoff teams. If Tennessee can force Kansas City to consistently settle for 3 instead of 6, again, those 9 points will come in handy.