There is no need to recap the Chiefs’ postseason troubles at Arrowhead Stadium. Most fans know that the team hasn’t won a home playoff game since 1994 when Joe Montana was quarterback.
In an interview with The Star, ESPN analyst Matt Hasselbeck said he has been surprised to hear so many people mention the past ahead of Saturday’s AFC Wild Card Game between the Chiefs and Titans.
“To me as a former player, that doesn’t even register as something that matters to me,” said Hasselbeck, who played from 1999-2015 and finished his career with Indianapolis.
“When I was playing for the Colts, my teammates were born in like ’93, so this team is even younger. They don’t know about that. They don’t care about that. What matters is how have you been playing lately.”
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Hasselbeck then cited the Chiefs’ four-game winning streak to end the season as reason to believe they have a good chance to beat the Titans.
“In their last four games, they’re playing better. They’re winning again,” Hasselbeck said.
Still, that stretch when the Chiefs went 1-6 is in the back of Hasselbeck’s mind, although he notes that all but one of those losses were by one score.
“I think the big advantage is definitely Kansas City,” he said. “But as we’ve seen from Kansas City, they can beat anybody in the league and they can also lose to anybody in the league.
“There is one thing that makes this Titans team dangerous: their defense is very, very good. Very physical, tough. They’re running that Dick LeBeau defense, but they’re doing it with better personnel on the back end, so they can play some man coverage.”
LeBeau is the Titans defensive coordinator, a role he had in 2016 when Tennessee upset the Chiefs 19-17 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs jumped ahead 14-0 in the first quarter, but managed just a second-quarter field goal after that.
The Chiefs had a third-and-goal situation from the 1-yard line, but Spencer Ware was stuffed on consecutive rushes. The Titans had a first-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter and easily scored.
Hasselbeck believes those two situations will be used by the Chiefs staff to fire up the team.
“I know the coaches, when they look at the film of last year’s game, the Chiefs coaches will say we lost because we couldn’t score on a goal-line situation and then defensively they had a goal-to-go from the 1 and they had a walk-in touchdown,” Hasselbeck said.
“It was like, wait a second, what just happened? Who won this game? So it could happen again. I don’t think it’s likely, but it could definitely happen.”