Week 5 Preview: Chiefs @ Titans

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Something has to give when the Chiefs (4-0) take on the Titans (3-1) at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.

Sunday’s matchup features the NFL’s top two teams in turnover differential at +9. The Titans (3-1) are the lone team in the NFL without a turnover, while the Chiefs (4-0) lead the AFC with 12 takeaways.

Sep 29, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (92) waits for play to resume during the first half of the game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-7. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 29, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe (92) waits for play to resume during the first half of the game against the New York Giants at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 31-7. Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The overall similarities between the Chiefs and Titans are clearly identifiable through four games. Both teams could see each other if they looked in the mirror and the Chiefs are in for a battle.

“Seems like they’re playing their best ball at home, so going to Nashville will be a tough task for us to go out with a win, but that’s the plan, to go down there and win,” Chiefs linebacker Derrick Johnson said during Wednesday’s locker room media session. “At the same time, we have to dot all of our Is and cross the Ts because it’s going to be a dogfight.”

The Titans start quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in place of an injured Jake Locker (hip, knee) and Fitzpatrick has history against the Chiefs, including a 4-1 record.

However, Fitzpatrick is 2-5 since 2009 against a Bob Sutton, as pointed out by ArrowheadPride.com.

Nevertheless, the Titans still have running back Chris Johnson. And despite Johnson’s current 3.3 yards per carry average, the Chiefs are wary of his big-play ability.

“Dangerous offense, they have a lot of playmakers,” Chiefs defensive tackle Dontari Poe said during Thursday’s locker room media session. “They have Chris Johnson, who can hit a home run anytime. They have been taking care of the ball really well, which is the reason they are 3-1. They’re a good team, a good offense, we just have to go out there and play Chiefs defense.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense squares off against a defense ranking 11th against the run, 10th against the pass.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith complimented Sunday’s foe during his Wednesday media session and he’s fully aware the Titans are more than capable of bringing pressure.

“They play physical, physical defense,” Smith said. “They challenge you, challenge you outside, challenge you up front, across the board and they’ve been having some success. They play fast.”

The Chiefs defense leads the league in points allowed (10.3 points per game). The Titans defense ranks eighth, allowing 17.3 points per game.

Mirror images, indeed.

So what’s the key to victory given what both teams like to do on both sides of the ball?

“The bottom line is who’s going to out-physical the other opponent on Sunday,” Chiefs wide receiver Donnie Avery said. “There’s no other way about it.’

Tale of the tape

Offense

• The Chiefs rank 13th in rushing (120.8 yards per game) and 22nd in passing (226.5 yards per game).
• The Titans rank 14th in rushing (119.8 yards per game) and 29th in passing (193 yards per game).

Defense

• The Chiefs rank 24th against the run (117.5 yards allowed per game) and second against the pass (188.8 allowed per game).
• The Titans rank 11th against the run (99 yards allowed per game) and 10th against the pass (214.3 yards allowed per game).

The last time

The Chiefs defeated the Titans, 34-14, at Arrowhead Stadium on Dec. 26, 2010 in a game that clinched the AFC West title.

Including games when both teams played as the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers, the Chiefs currently leads the all-time series, 26-20.

However, the Chiefs’ overall road record against the Titans/Oilers is 11-12. The Chiefs hold a 17-8 advantage when playing at Arrowhead Stadium.

Quotable

Chiefs coach Andy Reid during Monday’s media session when asked for his reaction to the Week Four atmosphere at Arrowhead Stadium:

“The crowd was unreal,” Reid said. “They like redheads.”

Former Chiefs safety Bernard Pollard, now with the Titans following a Super Bowl championship season with the Baltimore Ravens:

“People want to call me whatever, say whatever, but I am a champion and that’s something nobody can take from me,” Pollard said during Wednesday’s media conference call.

Chiefs guard Jeff Allen on what it’s like during game week preparing against the team’s defense:

“We have some of the best guys in the league on our defense,” Allen said. “Being able to work against the best can only better you and eventually make you the best.”

Prediction

Die-hard defensive fans yearning for a slugfest may want to tune in on Sunday.

The theme of the week from the Chiefs coaching staff and players when referring to the Titans was “physical.”

And that’s what Sunday’s contest will feature.

“They can bring it, we can bring it too, it’s not going to be a finesse game, we’ll have to come out here and play with toughness and a little bit of aggression,” Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe said during Thursday’s locker room media session. “They’ll bring it and we’ll bring it too.”

Chiefs guard Jeff Allen said the offensive line’s goal is to match Tennessee’s intensity.

“They have a lot of guys up front who can get pressure and a lot of guys who can stop the run,” Allen said. “Our goal is just to come out and be just as physical and set the tempo.”

Don’t expect much offense, as the contest has old fashioned war in the trenches written all over it.

The winning team moves to 5-0.

Outcome: Chiefs 17, Titans 13

——-

Friday’s official NFL Injury Report, as released by the league:

Kansas City Chiefs

Out: T Eric Fisher (concussion), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Questionable: TE Anthony Fasano (ankle, knee), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Probable: G Jeff Allen (groin), G Jon Asamoah (knee), RB Jamaal Charles (toes), P Dustin Colquitt (knee), CB Marcus Cooper (knee, thigh), C Rodney Hudson (shin), LB James-Michael Johnson (thumb), TE Sean McGrath (knee), FB Anthony Sherman (knee)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: RB Jamaal Charles (toes), T Eric Fisher (concussion), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), TE Travis Kelce (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Thursday: T Eric Fisher (concussion), TE Travis Kelce (knee)
Friday: T Eric Fisher (concussion), TE Travis Kelce (knee)

Limited participation

Wednesday: G Jeff Allen (groin), G Jon Asamoah (knee), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), TE Anthony Fasano (knee, ankle), C Rodney Hudson (shin), TE Sean McGrath (knee)
Thursday: G Jeff Allen (groin), RB Jamaal Charles (toes), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), TE Anthony Fasano (knee, ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)
Friday: RB Jamaal Charles (toes), P Dustin Colquitt (right knee), TE Anthony Fasano (knee, ankle), CB Brandon Flowers (knee), S Kendrick Lewis (ankle)

Full participation

Wednesday: CB Marcus Cooper (knee, thigh), LB James-Michael Johnson (thumb), RB Anthony Sherman (knee)
Thursday: G Jon Asamoah (knee), CB Marcus Cooper (knee, thigh), C Rodney Hudson (shin), LB James-Michael Johnson (thumb), TE Sean McGrath (knee), RB Anthony Sherman (knee)
Friday: G Jeff Allen (groin), G Jon Asamoah (knee), CB Marcus Cooper (knee, thigh), C Rodney Hudson (shin), LB James-Michael Johnson (thumb), TE Sean McGrath (knee), RB Anthony Sherman (knee)

Tennessee Titans

Out: RB Shonn Greene (knee), DT Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), QB Jake Locker (hip, knee)
Questionable: LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring), DE Ropati Pitoitua (shoulder), T David Stewart (calf), CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstring)
Probable: WR Kenny Britt (nick, ribs)

Practice Report

Did not practice

Wednesday: RB Shonn Greene (knee), DT Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), DE Ropati Pitoitua (shoulder), T David Stewart (calf), CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstring)
Thursday: RB Shonn Greene (knee), DT Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), DE Ropati Pitoitua (shoulder), T David Stewart (calf), CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstring)
Friday: RB Shonn Green (knee), DT Sammie Lee Hill (ankle), CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (hamstring)

Full participation

Wednesday: LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring), WR Kenny Britt (neck, ribs)
Thursday: LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring), WR Kenny Britt (neck, ribs)
Friday: LB Patrick Bailey (hamstring), WR Kenny Britt (neck, ribs), DE Ropati Pitoilua (shoulder), T David Stewart (calf)

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