Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans Odds & Game Pick (2021)

Oct 23, 2021 - 12:21 AM

Do you like points? Most NFL fans would probably prefer a high-scoring shootout over a low-scoring defensive struggle. Well, that might be what we get when the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans do battle in Nashville Sunday afternoon.

With a total approaching 60 points, will both of these teams be able to hold their end of the scoring bargain? Will there be any stops whatsoever? Let’s break it down.

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  • Opening line: Kansas City -4.5
  • Current line: Kansas City -5.5
  • Total: 57.5

How flawed are the Chiefs? 

For the first time during the 2021 season, the Chiefs defense held a team to fewer than 30 points. However, it’s tough to grade that as an accomplishment considering it was against a Washington Football Team offense banged up and led by the miserable Taylor Heinicke.

While Kansas City’s Week 6 performance was a step in the right direction, it wasn’t all pretty. Kansas City’s run defense was susceptible even in a blowout win, allowing Washington’s tailback committee to average 4.9 yards per attempt. The Chiefs still have major issues on that side of the ball and rank 31st in overall, passing and rushing defensive DVOA.

But there’s good news: reinforcements might be on the way. Star defensive lineman Chris Jones returned to practice, as did cornerback Charvarius Ward. Of course, their returns won’t completely fix this defense, but anything helps at this point.

The Chiefs’ offense continues to be a well-0iled machine despite Patrick Mahomes’ turnover issues. Last week’s two-INT performance made it five straight games with a turnover for the star quarterback. These uncharacteristic turnover issues might result from an offensive line that’s still gelling as a unit. Mahomes has been sacked eight times in his last four games.

While many might see the Chiefs as entirely one-dimensional, that’s not the case. Instead, the Chiefs have moved the ball on the ground effectively and did so with second-stringer Darrel Williams getting the bulk of the work with Clyde Edwards-Helaire sidelined. Believe it or not, K.C. ranks 8th in rushing DVOA this season.

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Titans are walking wounded after the big win vs. Bills 

I’m going to go ahead and say it. The Titans shouldn’t have won last Monday night against the Buffalo Bills. They were out-gained 417-362 and gave up 28 first downs. If Josh Allen didn’t slip on a QB sneak on 4th and 1 from the 2-yard line, I think we’re looking at a Titans team that’s 3-3 and licking its wounds.

And boy, are there a lot of wounds to lick. Tennessee’s win over Buffalo came at a cost. Most notably, Julio Jones, Taylor Lewan, and cornerback Chris Jackson didn’t practice Wednesday with various injuries. So while the analytics aren’t as harsh on the Titans, who rank 28th in defensive DVOA, my eyes suggest they’re just as bad defensively as the Chiefs.

Tennessee is giving up 2.43 points per possession compared to Kansas City’s 2.88 points, which is the worst in the league. And the only thing saving Tennessee from being worse is that their opponents have only scored a touchdown on 14-of-25 red-zone trips, good for a league-average 56% conversion rate.

Offensively, the story remains the same for Tennessee. It’s Derrick Henry or bust. Occasionally, Ryan Tannehill contributes too. The Titans rank 4th in rushing DVOA but 21st in pass DVOA.

And that’s the concern; Tannehill just hasn’t been the same in 2021. He’s thrown for just 1,467 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. He looks like more of a caddy along for the Henry ride at times rather than a genuine threat. The departure of former offensive coordinator Arthur Smith, plus the frequent absences of star receivers A.J. Brown and Julio Jones, hasn’t helped this passing game either, as the rest of Tennessee’s weaponry is thinner than a tissue.

Bottom Line 

I can’t believe I’m typing this, but it feels like the Chiefs might be undervalued here. Of course, there’s some skepticism in the market about this team, given its defensive struggles. And those concerns are valid against King Henry and the Titans. But I feel more confident backing Mahomes than I do Henry.

I’m personally not a big believer in the Titans. They’re bruised and battered and coming off an emotional win on a really short week. The absence of Lewan will also hurt, as Tennessee’s offensive line had taken a step back even with him on the field. The Titans have allowed 20 sacks, the second-highest total in the NFL.

Tennessee also doesn’t have the horses defensively to force Mahomes into mistakes. I’m expecting a huge, mistake-free day against a Titans secondary that let rookie Zach Wilson nearly throw for 300 yards a few weeks ago.

It’s not my normal play, but I’m laying it with the road favorite. As for the total, I’d hate to have an under ticket in this game, but the total feels a bit too high to wager on the over.

Pick: Chiefs -5.5, play up to -6

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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