The first wild card game of 2018 will be played today at 4:20 p.m. E.T. at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City when the Tennessee Titans (9-7 Overall, 3-5 Away) meet the Kansas City Chiefs (10-6 Overall, 6-2 Home). The Titans come into this games as the wild card team, finishing second in the AFC South. They earned that second-place finish by beating the AFC South title-winners, the Jacksonville Jaguars, 15-10 on the last day of the season. Tennessee has gone 2-3 over their last five. The Chiefs were the winners of the AFC West and got there by running off four straight wins over their final four games. Our Tennessee plays Kansas City 2018 AFC wild card pick has the Chiefs favored by anywhere from 8.5 to 9.5 points and the over/under at either 44 or 44.5.
The Titans offense has been putting up 20.9 PPG. The only team in the playoffs that’s averaged fewer points are the Buffalo Bills. Tennessee, which is 19th in the NFL in points scored, has averaged 115 YPG rushing and 199 YPG passing. QB Marcus Mariota (62.0 COMP%, 13 TDs, 15 INTs) has had a disappointing season, as he’s struggled finding receivers and has tossed too many picks and too few touchdowns. If Mariota is going to be successful today, he’ll need to connect with TE Delanie Walker (74 REC, 807 YDs, 10.9 AVG, 3 TDs) and WR Rishard Matthews (53 REC, 795 YDs, 15.0 AVG, 4 TDs), his two top receivers. With running back DeMarco Murray out due to an injured MCL, RB Derrick Henry (176 ATT, 744 YDs, 4.2 AVG, 5 TDs) will be hauling the ball a lot.
The Tennessee defense is giving up 22.3 PPG. Their D is solid versus the run, allowing just 89 YPG, but their pass defense is not as stalwart, as they are giving up 239 YPG to the pass. The defense does have some sound stats, including 12 INTs, 11 FF, and nine fumbles recovered. They have bagged quarterbacks 43 times, defended 71 passes, and made 47 TFL. All-Pro safety Kevin Byard, who has eight picks and 16 passes defended, is especially dangerous. DT Jurrell Casey and LBs Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan are adept at tracking and bringing down QBs and stopping the run.
- Defense is decent with some outstanding players
- Offense is limited
- QB Mariota has been play mistake-free
Kansas City Overall
The Chiefs scored an average of 25.9 PPG, which ranked them sixth in the league. They were good for 375 YPG, which included 256 yards in the air and 119 on the ground. QB Alex Smith (67.5 COMP%, 26 TDs, 5 INTs) has had a good season, although he is prone to being sacked. Injuries to various top receivers are numerous and worrisome. Tyreek Hill, who had 75 catches for 1,183 yards and seven scoring catches, is out. TE Travis Kelce and Albert Wilson are both nursing injuries. The Chiefs will look to dual-threat RB Kareem Hunt (272 ATT, 1327 YDs, 4.8 AVG, 8 TDs) to get the job done. Along with his premium rushing stats, Hunt has three receiving TDs and 53 catches.
The Kansas City defense has allowed 21.1 PPG this season. They were 29th in the NFL in passing yards allowed, as they gave up on average 247.0. They were better versus the run, allowing 118 YPG. The Chiefs have snared 16 picks and defended 84 passes. The D has forced 13 fumbles while recovering 10. They have also made an impressive 62 TFL, but have been short on sacks with 31. LB Justin Houston (9.5 SCKs, 5 TFL, 5 PD) and CB Terrance Mitchell (4 INTs, 17 PD) are both quality players.
- RB Hunt needs to have a big game
- Receiving group dealing with injuries
- Defense is overall strong
Three Major Takeaways
Our Tennessee plays Kansas City 2018 AFC wild card pick includes this trio of takeaways:
- QB edge goes to Chiefs
- RB edge to KC too
- Defenses are fairly even
Our Titans at Chiefs Pick
One thing that we like in this game is the under. Both teams are dealing with pretty important injuries on offense. We’re going with a low-scoring game and the under at 44.5. Our Tennessee plays Kansas City 2018 AFC wild card pick for the spread is the Titans at +9.5.