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VOL. 40 | NO. 51 | Friday, December 16, 2016

Titans at Chiefs: What to watch

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First down: Different game, same plan. The Titans’ run-first plan on offense worked against the Broncos, and it could be their M.O., again this week against the Chiefs, who have a talented defense just like the Broncos but can be vulnerable against the run. The Titans will, however, need more from Marcus Mariota than they got against Denver.

Second down: Win the turnover battle. Mission accomplished against Denver, as Tennessee forced the first two fumbles from the defense all season. The Chiefs are ball-hawks on defense, and will be looking for takeaways. The Titans have to be careful with the football on offense, and try to be opportunistic on defense.

Third down: Be careful on special teams. Tyreek Hill is the type of electrifying return man the Titans have lacked for several years, and he can change a game in a big way with his speed. That means the Titans vulnerable special teams unit has to be on notice regarding him. Simply put, kick the ball away from him, even if it means kicking it out of bounds.

Fourth down: Be up for the challenge. The Titans control their own fate regarding the postseason. If they win their final three games, they win the division and a playoff berth.

There will be no bigger task remaining than trying to win in Kansas City, where the 10-3 Chiefs are looking for a first-round bye and possibly the top seed in the AFC. It will take another all-around effort to leave Arrowhead Stadium with a win.

The Titans will have to weather the cold and the unenviable task of beating a top contender on the road. They must show that it is not too big for them.

Matchups to watch

Taylor Lewan vs. Justin Houston. Out of the frying pan and into the fire. Lewan handled Von Miller very capably last week and now gets to face the Chiefs’ pass-rushing star in Houston.

Houston is another game-wrecker who can change the course of the contest all by himself with one play, and Lewan will again have to be up to the task.

Marcus Mariota vs. Eric Berry. Berry is the type of ball-hawk safety that the Titans themselves would love to have. Instead, they will have to figure out ways to keep the former University of Tennessee star away from the football.

Marcus Mariota will try to get back on track after stumbling against Denver. But his biggest chore will be continuing to not turn the football over and put the defense in tough situations.

Avery Williamson/Kevin Byard vs. Travis Kelce. Kelce has been the Chiefs main receiver as a tight end, much as the Titans rely on Delanie Walker. Williamson, Byard or whoever on the defense will have a tough matchup to try and slow down him.

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