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Titans vs. Chiefs preview: 5 questions with Arrowhead Pride

Can the Titans run the ball on the Chiefs?

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

A big thanks to our friend Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride for giving us some insight on his Kansas City Chiefs. Here are his answers to my 5 questions:

1. What have the biggest changes been since Andy Reid gave up the play calling?

The Chiefs offense is better overall since Matt Nagy took over play calling. They’re running the ball better as evidenced by Kareem Hunt winning the rookie of the month award for December. When the Chiefs can run the ball their offense is very good. The first sign of trouble is when they can’t run it. The other addition is the run-pass options. The Chiefs have done more RPOs since Nagy took over play calling. It’s something that blends some of the spread looks that Alex Smith used at Utah and other players used in college. The Chiefs offense overall has been better since Nagy took over the play calling but don’t think Andy Reid disappeared. It’s still his show.

2. The Chiefs have Marcus Peters but are 31st DVOA against #1 WRs. How does that happen?

The opposing receiver lines up on the other side of Peters, who stays on the left side of the defense and doesn’t trail top receivers. Almost every week we predicted a big day from the opponent’s top receiver. That’s really the reason right there. Teams generally avoid Peters while they went through multiple starting cornerbacks on the other side until signing Darrelle Revis, who has seemed to stabilize that spot. Revis has only been here for a few weeks so he hasn’t been fully tested yet. I suspect the Titans will avoid Peters as well so Revis will get some action on that side of the field.

3. All Titans’ fans are pointing to the Chiefs’ run defense as a reason the Titans can win this game. What have teams been able to take advantage of in the Chiefs’ defense to have success on the ground?

The Chiefs run defense was in a worse spot during their losing streak earlier this season. They were regularly getting gashed against the run. However, the Chiefs have been much better stopping the run lately. They’ve allowed one team to rush for 100 yards in the last month and that was last week against much of the Chiefs second team defense. This is really about whether the Chiefs want to line up with six or seven defensive backs or whether they’re willing to become a little more vulnerable in the secondary and make stopping the run their top priority. If the Chiefs line up in their base defense, they can contain (not completely stop) the run.

4. Should Patrick Mahomes be starting this game instead of Alex Smith? Just kidding. How many touches will Tyreek Hill get in this game? Will they ramp up his usage in this game with it being the playoffs?

Alex Smith is the man for this game but we loved seeing Patrick Mahomes last week. It was a fun “meaningless” game. Tyreek Hill is already basically an every down player at this point so he should have a full plate of touches. For him that’s usually in the range of 5-8 touches. The total number doesn’t matter as much with him because it just takes one big play. He may have two touches in this game but one of those could be a 65-yard touchdown. He is the ultimate home run threat. The only “extra” thing I see him doing this week is possibly returning kicks in addition to punts with their other kick returners hurt.

5. What’s your score prediction and why?

I’ll take the Chiefs 24-16. The Titans best shot is if this is an ugly game with a score of like 13-10. If it goes higher than that, the Chiefs should win. They haven’t allowed more than 20 points at home in over a year so if their offense doesn’t go in the tank I think the Chiefs will win.