NFL Playoffs Wk 1 Titans Chiefs
Though it might be an old cliché at this point, quarterback play will decide the Titans vs. Chiefs wildcard matchup this Saturday (4:35 PM, ESPN). Like the other game of high signal-caller intrigue (Bills at Jags, Panthers at Saints), Tennessee and Kansas City both have their own kind of quarterback hotseats to deal with. That said, TN is heavily invested in third-year starter Marcus Mariota, who is coming off his worst campaign behind center, throwing for only 13 scores while being picked off 15 times. Yes, he’s in the playoffs while draft rival Jameis Winston is watching the postseason on TV, but his numbers aren’t good.
On the other side is KC starter Alex Smith, who – for most of his career – has been vastly underrated. And even as he comes off a stellar individual season where he put up a career-high 4042 yards with 36 TDs against only 5 INTs, there are mutterings in Kansas City that Smith may not be the answer at the quarterback position for too much longer. He’s certainly not beloved like Drew Brees or Tom Brady, and his NFL MVP odds will likely never mirror those of his hall-of-fame contemporaries. There is a distinct sense that this game has some urgency behind it for Alex Smith – especially since his backup and heir apparent, Patrick Mahomes, appears to be progressing ahead of schedule per his Week 17 start.
If Alex Smith plays like his job and legacy are both on the line Saturday, the Titans vs. Chiefs odds – which favor KC by 9 points at Bovada and SportsBetting – could be underselling an offensive eruption. Expect Smith and company to come out firing on all cylinders, and if you dare to bet on the Titans as +310 underdogs, be prepared to be disappointed.
Most analysts and SportsBettingStates.com don’t think the Titans are quite ready for primetime yet, and fans – even in Kansas City – aren’t exactly flocking to Arrowhead Stadium. You can still get tickets to the game for as little as $38 at the gate! But whether or not you’re going in person, the matchup should still be interesting, and you can place all your Titans vs. Chiefs bets at the reputable online sportsbook of your choice.