NFL Championship Round Predictions: Titans vs. Chiefs Props
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs; Arrowhead Stadium, 3:05 p.m. EST. Jan 19, 2020.
Let's have a show of hands for those of you who were fuming and about two seconds away from ripping your KC -10 tickets when the Texans went up 24-0? I was one of them, but then something clicked, and the Kansas City Chiefs put on one of the most dominant postseason displays I've seen in a while. As soon as the Texans failed to convert on that fake punt from inside their 40 while up 24-7, I knew the Chiefs were going to win that game. Sure enough, they not only won, but they covered and made most of us very happy and some Texans' backers very mad.
But that was last week. This week, Mahomes and the Chiefs have their sights set on making the Super Bowl for the first time since 1969 when they beat the Vikings in Super Bowl IV. We know how explosive the Chiefs can be on offense as we saw it first-hand last week against the Texans. They proudly deserved the rankings of top-10 in all offensive categories except rushing, which they sit 23rd. The key to this game will be the Chiefs' third-down conversion percentage (47.5, first overall) against the Titans' eighth ranked third-down defense. For the Chiefs, they'll have to be better on defense then they were against the Texans as spotting teams 24 points is living extremely dangerously. The Chiefs will need their 26th ranked rushing defense to step up in a big way against a Titans team that wants to run the ball 50+ times per game and milk the clock.
Speaking of the Titans, we are just blown away at how quickly a team can come together and make noise in the postseason. They were not only written off against the Patriots in the Wild-Card game but were given absolutely no shot at beating the Ravens, something they did pretty easily. We know the Titans are a run-first team behind Derrick Henry and his monster performances (three-straight 180+ yards rushing - NFL record) but at some point, Ryan Tannehill is going to have to make a few more plays than he's accustomed to. Tannehill has recorded 15 completions and 160 passing yards in two playoffs games while putting up three touchdowns to just one interception. It seems like the perfect storm as the Chiefs sell out to stop the run while Tannehill finds his playmakers for chunk plays.
So with that said, Vegas has pegged the Chiefs as 7.5-point favorites, with the total sitting at 52. Part of me is pissed that the Titans screwed up the chances to see Lamar Jackson vs. Patrick Mahomes, but this game figures to be a contrast in style and should make for a great game.
Team Total - Tennessee Titans "Over" 9.5 First Half Points (-130)
Back to the well with the Titans we go, and we couldn't be more excited about this matchup. The Titans are bringing football back to the Mesozoic era by playing smash-mouth football and running the ball right up the gut 30+ times per game. The crazy part about that is that it's working as it's limiting the amount of time their opponent has the ball and because they have the offensive line and running back to pull it off. The Titans have gone "over" their first half mark in both playoff games this season, scoring 14 against the Patriots and 14 against the Ravens. Now they get to face a Kansas City defense that gave up 24 points in 17 minutes of game time. We know the Chiefs are built around their offense, but the defense leaves a lot to be desired. They rank 26th against the run, while the Titans rank third in rushing yards. We see no other way that Tennessee can hang around in this game and pull off the upset than running the football and making their chances count. Behind Henry and the run game, the Titans get to 10 first half points and we cash this ticket.
Longest Touchdown Yardage in Game - "Under" 43.5 yards (-115)
We like this prop bet for a number of reasons. The first reason being that the Titans don't exactly have speedsters on the outside that can run away from the secondary of the Chiefs. We know the Titans are predicated on running the ball and then letting Tannehill manufacture something not that far beyond the line of scrimmage. If this is in jeopardy, it'll be because the Chiefs forced the Titans to have a blown assignment and not because the Titans secondary isn't any good. The Titans will be ready for the Chiefs, and it helps that they've already met once this season. Mike Vrabel has become an excellent game planner and will have his defense ready for what the Chiefs like to do. Tyreek Hill has come out and said that nobody in the league could cover him and the rest of the receiving corps in man-to-man or zone defense. Well, that's bulletin board material for the Titans defense that ranks among the best defenses left in the playoffs. We expect to see big chunk plays, but we don't expect one to get into the end zone.
Anytime Touchdown Scorer - Derrick Henry (-150)
How can we not dabble on this prop again after being shut out last week because Tannehill called his own number on a drive that Henry did all the hard work. Henry will find the end zone this week and he'll continue his torrid rushing pace that start way back on November 10 vs these very Chiefs. In that game, one in which the Titans pulled off the upset, Henry scored twice on 23 carries and amassed 188 rushing yards. We don't expect the yardage to be as high, but he'll find pay dirt against this porous run defense and we'll happily cash this ticket.
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