The Titans have a really tough test tomorrow when they head into Arrowhead to take on the Chiefs. Both of these teams still have their eyes on winning a division championship. Joel Thorman, my boss here at SB Nation and the head of Arrowhead Pride, was nice enough to answer 5 questions about his Chiefs for us.
1. How does the loss of Derrick Johnson affect the defense?
It's a big deal. A really big deal. DJ is the longest tenured Chief. He played every snap on defense. He was so good in pass coverage and his run defense will be missed. His leadership and knowledge as an 12-year vet just can't be replaced. It's a tough one. I expect the Titans to be able to run against the Chiefs. They could've done the same with DJ in the lineup but without him and only having a week to prepare for life without him is going to make it difficult against an offense like the Titans. Luckily the Chiefs defense is stacked with veterans who are probably as well prepared as anyone to move on from losing a player like him.
2. Is Jeremy Maclin back to 100%? How does his return affect TyFreak Hill on offense?
I talked to Maclin after the game last week about that and he wouldn't admit that he was less than 100 percent but in my opinion it seemed like he was a little rusty out there. It's been a week and a half since then so I would expect him to be pretty close on Sunday. As for how it affects Tyreek, we're still kinda trying to figure that out. Last week Maclin played but Tyreek (and Kelce) still had a big day. There are only so many balls to go around and I'm not sure if the Chiefs mind if Maclin gets 100 yards or if Tyreek does. Tyreek does seem to be more of the Chiefs deep threat now and they'll need that every game.
3. Where do you attack the Chiefs on defense?
The Chiefs are 27th in run defense. They haven't allowed fewer than 99 yards since October. Don't get behind and run it on them. The Chiefs love making you one dimensional. They'll get a lead and sit in dime and wait for you to make a mistake (and if it's Eric Berry he'll probably score too). If you maintain the run game I think you will be successful against the Chiefs. The Chiefs want to win time of possession and the turnover battle, which is basically what you need to do to beat them.
4. The way to beat the Titans is through the air. How is Alex Smith playing this year? Is he capable of a 300 yard passing game if the Titans are able to shut down the run?
The thing about Alex Smith is, if he's throwing for 300 yards, the Chiefs are probably losing. The Chiefs are at their best when he's throwing 25-30 times for 200-something yards, extremely efficient and not throwing any picks. That's the Alex Smith Chiefs fans will want to see. They would rather dink and dunk with the occasional shot to Kelce or Tyreek. As I say all that ... Alex has thrown for 10 yards per attempt in each of the last two games, the only time in his Chiefs career he has done that in back to back games. There's a chance you're going to disregard everything I said here but it's still too small of a sample size for me. Who knows, maybe Playoff Alex Smith is here a little early.
5. Write the headline in Sunday's Tennessean.
Chiefs Chop Titans