The Tennessee Titans aim for their fifth consecutive regular-season victory over the host Kansas City Chiefs when the teams battle Sunday night in an AFC showdown.
Counting the postseason, Tennessee has won five of the past six meetings. But the Chiefs were victorious in the most important tussle when they beat the Titans 35-24 in the 2019 AFC Championship Game.
Both teams are 5-2 this time around, with Tennessee being the hotter squad following five consecutive wins after a slow start. Kansas City is coming off a bye and routed the host San Francisco 49ers 44-23 in its last outing.
But still fresh on the mind of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes is last season’s one-sided 27-3 loss to the Titans in Nashville, Tenn. Tennessee led 27-0 at the half in the convincing victory.
“You’ve got to be ready to play football,” Mahomes said on Wednesday. “Last year, we weren’t ready and they beat our (expletive). It’s going to be a physical matchup and we need to go out there and play our best football. … We know this is a great football team coming to town.”
Mahomes is enjoying a solid season with an NFL-best 20 touchdown passes to go with 2,159 yards and five interceptions.
But perhaps the most pivotal player on the field will be Titans running back Derrick Henry.
Henry rushed for 219 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 17-10 road win over the Houston Texans. The 200-yard outing was the sixth of his career, tying the NFL record shared by O.J. Simpson and Adrian Peterson.
Henry has topped 100 rushing yards in four straight games and ranks third in the NFL with 755. He has scored seven touchdowns.
As he typically does, Henry credited the offensive line for his big day.
“They were the ones that made it happen,” Henry said. “Without them, I wouldn’t have half the success that I’ve had.”
Henry was limited in practice Wednesday with a sore foot. He is expected to be fine by kickoff.
A bigger question is the health of quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who missed the game against the Texans due to an ankle injury that ended his streak of 49 consecutive starts.
Tannehill was a limited practice participant on Wednesday and a decision on his availability will come later in the week.
“Slowly, working into it with the ankle, and seeing where I’m at, day by day, just moving around and getting ready to go,” Tannehill said.
“Pain is going to be there, that’s just kind of where we’re at with it. … It’s just going to be a matter of if I can do my job, or if I can’t.”
Third-round pick Malik Willis started against Houston and completed 6 of 10 passes for 55 yards and one interception.
Mahomes often throws for 55 yards on one drive and Kansas City leads the NFL in scoring with 31.9 points per game — the Titans are 24th at 18.9 — and ranks second in total offense (403.3 yards per game).
Still, that didn’t stop the Chiefs from adding a potential playmaker to the offense as the team acquired wideout Kadarius Toney from the New York Giants during the bye week.
“He’s super excited,” Mahomes said of Toney, a 2021 first-round pick. “You can tell how much he’s ready to get out there and play. Everybody sees (the) physical gifts he has.”
Kansas City will be without three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Frank Clark, who was suspended two games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy due to two offseason arrests on gun charges.
Tight end Jody Fortson (quadriceps, illness) was the only active Chiefs player to miss practice Wednesday.
Standout nose tackle Jeffery Simmons (ankle) and safety Amani Hooker (shoulder) were among the players to sit out for Tennessee.
–Field Level Media