By HCR Staff | Jan. 18, 2020
To some degree, this matchup reminds us of the 2003 AFC Championship, when the high flying Indianapolis Colts visited the New England Patriots. The Colts were considered the finesse team, and the Patriots the physical team. Titans head coach Mike Vrabel took part in that game as well. Like this year’s Titans, the Patriots were a good, downhill running team.
Here’s what we’ll be watching.
Tennessee’s offensive line vs Kansas City’s front seven. The Titans’ OL is in an historic groove right now, and we don’t see Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith deviating too much from what’s worked for them thus far in the playoffs. Smith is going to run the ball, and he’ll want to see if the Chiefs smallish linebackers hold up–they’re not thumpers, but they’ll have to be willing. As for Kansas City, much will depend on whether defensive lineman Chris Jones plays, and they’ll have to get good rotational play from Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel and Xavier Williams.
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s use of tight ends Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Smith and Firkser make for a very clutch and talented duo; not household names, but highly productive and physical. Against the Patriots, Firkser had grabs in key situations, and it’s obvious Tannehill trusts him. Smith is a physical specimen who plays to the whistle on every play; he’s a rare TE homerun hitter. Everyone anticipates the Chiefs loading the box to take away running back Derrick Henry, so Tannehill is going to have to make a few more plays in the pass game than he did in their earlier playoff wins.
Titans kicker Greg Joseph. Joseph hasn’t been called on at all in the playoffs, but we think he’s going to be called upon at least twice in this game. How clutch is he? None of us know. The difficulty for Joseph is that Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place for kickers, especially in the winter months.