Week 7 Preview – Know Thy Enemy: Kansas City Chiefs

Titans vs. Chiefs
Titans vs. Chiefs Credit: TitansWire

It’s Titans vs Chiefs week as the Kansas City Chiefs pays a visit to Nashville to debate which city has the best BBQ + hot chicken recipes and to play a football game in between. The high octane Chiefs offense should have little issue carving up an entirely gracious Titans defense.

Can the struggling Titans passing game keep going score for score with KC? Are the Titans mentally ready after defeating the Bills in an emotional Monday night victory? How much longer can Derrick Henry keep up this immense pace? Who will win this premier match between two AFC contenders in Week 7 of the NFL?

Chiefs Key Numbers + Info (2021 season)

Record: 3-3 (1-1 AFC North)

Points scored: 185

PPG: 30.8

Points allowed: 176

PPGa: 29.3

Avg. yards per rush: 4.9

Average. yards per rush allowed: 5.2

Avg. rush yards per game: 125

Avg. rush yards per game allowed: 133.16

Rushing TDs: 5 for, 9 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 308.5

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 277.33

Passing TDs: 18 for, 11 against

Pass Completion Rate: 69%

Pass Completion Rate Against: 66%

Leading Rusher: Clyde Edwards-Helaire (65 attempts for 304 yards)

Top Receiver: Tyreek Hill (46 receptions for 592 yards, five touchdowns)

Leading Tackler: Nick Bolton (40 tackles, five tackles for loss)

Key Additions: OT Orlando Brown, OG Trey Smith (rookie), C Creed Humphrey (rookie), RB Darrel Williams, DL Jarran Reed, OL Joe Thuney, TE Blake Bell, OL Austin Blythe, LB Nick Bolton (rookie), OL Mike Remmers, RB Jerick McKinnon, CB Mike Hughes, WR Josh Gordon

Key Losses: OT Mitchell Schwartz, OT Eric Fisher, OL Kyle Long (PUP), RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (IR), OL Martinas Rankin, P Dustin Colquitt, DE Joshua Kaindoh (IR)

Titans vs Chiefs Series History

Kansas City leads the all-time series 30-24

Tennessee Call Out, Ball Out

Team defense 

– Turns out Patrick Mahomes is still a pretty decent player, that guy. Tennessee will need all hands on deck, especially a banged-up secondary to even remotely begin to think about containing the Chefs. The front seven will need to expose a still gelling offensive line if at all possible. Without a team-wide effort, it can get ugly real fast. Suffice to say, a miracle needs to happen. 

Derrick Henry 

– The superstar back will do what he does best to keep the ball away from a potent Chiefs offense. He’s on an unprecedented record-breaking pace for production. Can he hold up for the long and cruel grind that this game is? The Chiefs defense isn’t exactly the 2000 Ravens as of press time. Needless to say, the running back will need to be his level best once again.  

Offensive line. Please do anything

– The Titans will need to rejigger some things as usual as left tackle Taylor Lewan is out due to a concussion suffered on Monday night. Left guard Rodger Saffold is a constant shuffle in and out of the lineup. Ben Jones is seemingly the only good constant on the line.

Yes, the Chiefs defense is what it is but the Tennessee line is banged up and heavily reliant on questionable backups. Ryan Tannehill needs some time to get it going. He’s been one of the most heavily sacked quarterbacks this season. Which group will break first?

Keys to a Chiefs Victory

“Fix” Patrick Mahomes

– Yeah he’s already a legendary figure in the annals of league history but there’s a glaring turnover issue he’s dealing with this season. It needs to be fixed so that inferior teams such as the Titans don’t have a hope of limiting him.

Mahomes is borderline unstoppable when he’s fully on and operating with his full set of weapons. It’s possible that he’s trying to compensate for the lack of defensive cover or he’s experimenting due to the sheer limitless potential of his talent. 

Stop the guy wearing 11 

– The Chiefs’ much-beleaguered secondary will need to stop the Titans’ primary receiving weapon and now Chipotle’s mortal enemy, AJ Brown. After a few weeks of battling injury and ineffectiveness, Brown finally broke out in the second half last week. Stop 11 and a hampered Julio Jones, Kansas City will contain the passing attack. 

Keep on going! 

– The series has been pockmarked with pitched back and forth battles over the years between the two AFC powers. KC has had a better time of it during the past two games though, thoroughly eviscerating the suspect Titans defense every time. Andy Reid is a masterful offensive mind and his protégé Eric Bienemy should’ve been a head coach long ago. Keep the good times rolling! 

Titans vs Chiefs Injury Report

Titans vs Chiefs: What are the odds?

Caesars has the Chiefs as four-point favorites at -110 while the Titans are +110 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Chiefs at -210 and the Titans at +175.

BetMGM has the Chiefs as 4.5 point favorites at -110 while the Titans are +110 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Bills at -200 and the Titans at +175.

Wynnbet has the Chiefs as 4.5 favorites at -115 while the Titans are +105 dogs. The over/under has been set at 57.5. The money line is the Chiefs at -215 and the Titans +175.

Prediction

KANSAS CITY 42

Tennessee Titans 31

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Previous KTE Editions

KTE: Jacksonville Jaguars

Know Thy Enemy: Seattle Seahawks

Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts

KTE: New York Jets

Know Thy Enemy: Buffalo Bills

Know Thy Enemy: Indianapolis Colts

The newest edition of Know Thy Enemy enters divisional territory in the AFC. The Indianapolis Colts, fresh off their loss to the Rams, travel to Nashville for their first game against the Tennessee Titans. Can they escape all the bachelorette parties and honky tonks despite a crazy quarterback situation? The Titans want to put on a show with so many legendary Oilers alumni in town. Who will gain the upper hand in an eminently winnable division? 

Previous KTE editions

Know Thy Enemy: Seattle Seahawks

Key Numbers + Info (2021 season)

Record: 0-2 (0-0 AFC South)

Points scored: 40

PPG: 20

Points allowed: 55

PPGa: 27.5

Yards per rush: 4.0

Avg. yards per rush allowed: 4.3

Avg. rush yards per game: 111

Rrush yards per game allowed: 120.5

Rushing TDs: 0 for, 1 against

Avg. pass yards per game: 234

Avg. pass yards per game allowed: 255.5

Passing TDs: 3 for, 6 against

Pass Completion Rate: 64%

Pass Completion Rate Against: 70%

Top Rusher: Jonathan Taylor (32 attempts for 107 yards, 0 touchdowns)

Leading Receiver: Michael Pittman, Jr (11 receptions for 152 yards, 0 touchdowns)

Top Tackler: Khari Willis (15 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, one pass defense)

Key Additions: QB Carson Wentz, OL Eric Fisher, OT Julien Davenport, RB Marlon Mack, CB TJ Carrie, EDGE Kwity Paye (rookie), S Andrew Sendejo, WR Mike Strachan (rookie), TE Kylen Granson (rookie)

Key Losses: QB Philip Rivers (retired), OT Anthony Castonzo (retired), DL Denico Autry, T.Y. Hilton (injured), OT Sam Tevi (injured), WR Dezmon Patmon (injured), QB Sam Ehlinger (injured)

Series History

Indianapolis leads the series 35-18

Keys to a Titans Victory

Get AJ Brown Back to Form 

The third-year star receiver had a rough outing against Seattle and hasn’t connected effectively with Ryan Tannehill to begin 2021. Julio Jones got going last week, snagging over 100 yards and a questionable touchdown reversal. It could be time for Brown to get going versus a weakened Colts secondary susceptible to the big play. He’s more than capable of generating monstrous YAC on any play. In Brown’s case, he has been massaging a knee injury which has repeatedly placed him on the injury report. Can the star join Julio in scaring the Colts defense this week? 

Establish. The. Run

Derrick Henry appeared to generate very little production until the second half last week. He single-handedly outgained the entire Seahawks offense by himself in the three quarters. The King faces a much stiffer test in the Colts front seven who could have an argument that they are better than Seattle’s front. The Titans’ best offense features a ton of play-action concepts due to the defense’s fear of Henry’s punitive retribution. Tennessee’s offensive line is a bit banged up and Todd Downing’s play-calling capabilities are somewhat in question, however. 

Pressure the QB 

Indianapolis has a severe issue at quarterback, regardless of Carson Wentz’s status (he has injuries to BOTH ankles). Wentz has continued the poor run of form that plagued him from his Philly disillusionment. If he can’t go on Sunday, then frequent signee Brett Hundley would get the nod over current backup Jacob Eason. Not to mention, the glaring issues on the line that Eric Fisher and Quenton Nelson don’t occupy. Fisher is just coming off a serious knee injury and Nelson is coming off a stint on the COVID list. Both players proved capable last week but their linemates did not. Tennessee would be wise to apply a ton of pressure on the right side to see if they can crack them. Enter former Colt Denico Autry to do the job.  

Keys to a Colts Victory

Target the left side of the OL

The last time we saw Taylor Lewan, he was being utterly emasculated and delineated into rookie mincemeat by Chandler Jones in week one. He was a last-minute inactive due to a knee injury suffered in pregame warmups last week. Although he practiced fully for multiple days this week, it appears that he isn’t as ready to return to full fitness from the ACL injury suffered last season. Tennessee has a new (old) fire to put out on the line as left guard Rodger Saffold exited the game last week due to injury. It’s gotten to the point that Tennessee might have to rely on backup caliber players at both tackle spots, Ben Jones being a constant injury worry, and regressed right guard. Enter a venomous and fierce Colts’ front seven featuring DeForest Buckner, Darius Leonard, Kwity Paye, and Bobby Okereke.

Get Titans Killer Jack Doyle Going

The former Tennessee Titans tight end has carved out a starring role for the hated rival Colts. He’s been a frequent bugaboo for the Titans due to their inability to cover the tight end for whatever reason. Indy would be wise to use him due to a lack of other receiving weapons outside of its running backs (they are very good at receiving) and a solitary threat in Michael Pittman, Jr. Unfortunately, the Titans get back linebacker Jayon Brown so he will be a boon for the much-maligned Tennessee defense.  

Run the Ball. A Lot

The best way to protect a less-than-ideal quarterback situation? Run the ball. Fortunately for the Colts, they have one of the best young running backs in the game in Jonathan Taylor. Whoever starts for them isn’t the best of options even if Wentz can go. The mere threat of Taylor and Marlon Mack should neutralize a frugal and anemic Titans pass rush. 

Injury Report

What are the odds?

Caesars has the Titans as 5.5 point favorites at -110 while the Colts are +110 dogs. The over/under has been set at 48 even. The money line is the Titans at -250 and the Colts at +205.

BetMGM has the Titans as 5.5 point favorites at -105 while the Colts are +115 dogs. The over/under has been set at 47.5. The money line is the Titans at -250 and the Colts at +200.

Prediction

INDIANAPOLIS 28

Tennessee 24

Nothing will affect the season of the 2021 Miami Dolphins more than this one big thing.

Everyone knows the quarterback is generally the biggest factor dictating an NFL team’s success.  There are obviously high expectations for Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa this season, but the ultimate success of this team relies on co-offensive coordinators George Godsey and Eric Studesville.  With the stellar defense the Miami Dolphins had last season, Brian Flores will need his recently promoted assistants to bring the offense up to the same level to win games this year.

Why Coaching Matters

In the NFL, the quarterback is king.  A great quarterback can take a good team to a great team and hide deficiencies on both sides of the ball.  Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers have proved countless times throughout their careers that a subpar team can go deep in the playoffs with their help.  Why then, is offensive coaching still king?

If we look at the 2020 season, the best offenses without “proven” quarterbacks showed countless examples of why the right scheme matters.  Derek Carr, Ryan Tannehill, and even Kirk Cousins and rookie Justin Herbert led top 10 offenses in terms of yardage with each of their respective teams putting up over 6000 total yards. 

While each is a solid quarterback, it can reasonably be inferred that the scheme they are in has a phenomenal impact on their success. Let’s take a look at the Raiders for example.  Before offensive guru John Gruden joined the team in Las Vegas, Derek Carr had never put up more than 4,000 yards in a single season.  He has now broken that threshold in all 3 seasons since. 

He’s also averaged only 9 interceptions per year compared to 11 over the previous 4 seasons.  Gruden has also developed one of the top running backs in the league with Josh Jacobs eclipsing 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons.  Coaching matters.

Is John Gruden the real secret to his success?

The Titans are another great example of what incredible offensive minds can do for an NFL team. 

While Tannehill’s passing yards are fairly on par with what they were on the Dolphins, he has thrown only 13 interceptions while starring in a new offense for the Titans.  The impressive rushing attack and play action offense developed by Mike Vrabel and Arthur Smith has turned the Titans into a top 5 offense in the NFL.

Coaching matters.

Tannehill has broken out as a top-level quarterback since joining the Titans.

When we look at the Dolphins, we can see the talent and potential oozing at every offensive position.  Without proper coaching however, all that will ever be talked about is potential. 

If the Dolphins want to make the playoffs this season, the coaching staff of Godsey and Studesville will need to milk every ounce of that potential from each player on the roster.  This will include not just Tua, but the offensive line, running backs, and fresh new receivers.

Coaching Backgrounds

George Godsey

Godsey’s NFL coaching experience began in 2011 as an assistant for the New England Patriots after a seven-year college coaching stint at UCF.  In 2012 he was named tight ends coach under offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who he followed to the Texans in 2014 to become quarterbacks coach. 

Godsey then gained experience as a quarterbacks coach for the Detroit Lions before leaving to coach tight ends for the Dolphins under Brian Flores in 2019.  In March, he joined Studesville in being named as co-offensive coordinators for the Dolphins.

Eric Studesville

Studesville has an impressive resume of NFL coaching experience beginning in 1997 with the Chicago Bears as a running backs coach.  He has since coached running backs for the Giants, Bills, and Broncos.  Studesville also served as interim head coach for Denver in 2010 after Josh McDaniels was fired.  J

oining the Dolphins in 2018, he was kept on the team after a regime change from head coach Adam Gase to Brian Flores.  Studesville has had many great backs impress under his tutelage including names like Tiki Barber, Willis McGahee, Fred Jackson, and Marshawn Lynch.

Biggest Keys

The run game will need to be a whole lot better this year.  Myles Gaskin showed promise last season, and the coaching staff needs to ensure that he can find holes by coaching up the young offensive lineman.  Both Godsey and Studesville have loads of experience with running backs, and I expect to see that on display with a plethora of different skillsets in the backfield. 

Malcolm Brown was a solid addition in the offseason, and I expect the co-offensive coordinators to get a lot more out of him than what was seen with the disappointing Jordan Howard and Matt Breida last year.  Watch out for Salvon Ahmed to break out as well, he has more talent than many might expect.

Gaskin could be poised for a breakout year.

The Dolphins coaching staff will need to learn from the mistakes from last season to progress this year.  At times last season Tua seemed to be limited to certain play calls and short yardage passes under former offensive coordinator Chan Gailey. 

Godsey and Studesville will need to let Tua rip it and throw to his speedy receivers downfield.  Tua has great pocket awareness and accuracy, and the coaches must allow him to put this on full display.  The coaching staff needs to instill confidence in the young QB by helping him learn to make calls at the line of scrimmage, gain more confidence in the playbook, and trust his instincts.

Look for the coaches to put to good use the extremely talented skill players on the Miami roster.

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