Chiefs

Chiefs-Titans scouting report

AP

When the Chiefs run

EDGE >> Chiefs

Granted, the preseason doesn’t mean much. But the Titans finished the exhibition slate 24th in the league in run defense by allowing 124 yards per game. That’s not very good, and they better tighten it up if they want to contain do everything star running back Jamaal Charles. Sure, the Chiefs’ offensive line is in a state of flux, but Charles has routinely outperformed his blocking, and at age 27, there’s no sign that will stop this year. Throw in the fact the Titans are still adjusting to a 3-4 defense after spending last year in a 4-3, and the Chiefs have the edge.

Chiefs’ Top Rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

C. Gray

30

161

5.4

1

When the Chiefs pass

EDGE >> Titans

Here’s were the Titans will be able to get after the Chiefs. Expect them to load up against the run and force quarterback Alex Smith to beat them. That will be easier said than done, of course, because the Chiefs’ pass protection has been shaky throughout the preseason and their No. 1 receiver, Dwayne Bowe, will be forced to sit due to a one-game suspension for substance abuse. That means Donnie Avery and Frankie Hammond will likely be their starting receivers. The Titans can get after the quarterback, too, thanks to defensive tackle Jurrell Casey and outside linebacker Derrick Morgan. Expect Chiefs coach Andy Reid to throw the kitchen sink at the Titans’ defense.

Chiefs’ Top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

A. Smith

31

51

286

0-2

Chiefs’ Top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

T. Kelce

11

193

17.5

2

When the Titans run

EDGE >> Chiefs

The Titans’ starting running back is Shonn Greene, and while he’s a serviceable back, he won’t strike fear in a group that held the Titans in check, for the most part, when they faced each other last season. The Chiefs’ base 3-4 defense is stout against the run, thanks to interior linemen like Dontari Poe and Mike DeVito, but if the Titans plan on playing a lot of three-wide sets, it will be up to their nickel and dime units to be stout and disciplined in their runs fits. The Titans could make some hay here if the Chiefs play those subpackages to get more speed on the field, which will cause them to sacrifce some size. But at the outset, at least, expect the Chiefs to be just fine.

Titans’ Top Rusher

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

B. Sankey

42

155

3.7

1

When the Titans pass

EDGE >> Titans

It’s entirely possible that quarterback Jake Locker will falter on the road, particularly against the Chiefs’ fearsome pass rush. However, he is a talented guy who has looked great during the preseason, and don’t forget, new coach Ken Whisenhunt carved up the Chiefs’ 25th-rated pass defense twice last season when he was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator. Expect to see a lot of three-wide sets, especially if starting cornerback Marcus Cooper is hobbled with an ankle injury. The Titans’ receiving corps is quite solid too, as speedy slot man Kendall Wright and outside receivers Nate Washington and Justin Hunter lead the way. The 6-foot-4 Hunter is potentially a matchup nightmare for a secondary that lacks speed. Also keep an eye on Delanie Walker, an undersized-but-productive tight end. If Chiefs safety Eric Berry remains hobbled by his injured heel, he could hurt them.

Titans’ Top QB

C

A

Yds.

TD-I

Z. Mettenberger

47

68

659

2-2

Titans’ Top WR

No.

Yds.

Avg.

TD

T. Thompson

13

154

11.8

0

Special teams

EDGE >> Titans

It’s hard to best against Dave Toub, who is easily one of the best special teams coaches in the league. But the Titans have a Pro Bowl punt returner in Dexter McCluster — remember him — and another very good kick returner in Leon Washington. They also feature ficker Ryan Succop, who the Chiefs released in favor of rookie Cairo Santos. But Santos has never kicked in an NFL game, and with De’Anthony Thomas doubtful with a hamstring injury, the Chiefs could turn to the unproven Frankie Hammond. Advantage, Titans.

Coaching

EDGE >> Chiefs

Whisenhunt is a very good offensive mind and like the Chiefs’ Andy Reid, he’s made a Super Bowl and is in his second stint as a head coach. But Reid has been successful for a longer period of time, and is also in his second year at his new stop while Whisenhunt is in his first year. There’s always an adjusment period for new coaches, and Reid’s players should be over it.

X-factor

EDGE >> Chiefs

It’s opening day at Arrowhead Stadium, and the place will be rocking. The Chiefs’ defense will be jacked up too. Locker is going to have to prove he can win in a venue and atmosphere like the one he’ll face Sunday.

Bottom line: Chiefs 27-24

This game could be closer than it should be due to the Chiefs’ suspensions on offense and some key injuries (Thomas, Cooper). At the end of the day though, the Chiefs are the better team, at least on paper, and should be able to pull it out.

Terez A. Paylor, tpaylor@kcstar.com

110.8 (16th in the league)

Chiefs' rush yards per game

125.8 (24)

Titans’ rush yards allowed per game

189.2 (21)

Chiefs' pass yards per game

218.8 (22)

Titans’ pass yards allowed per game

112.8 (14)

Titans’ rush yards per game

150.5 (29)

Chiefs' rush yards allowed per game

236.2 (8)

Titans’ pass yards per game

188.8 (10)

Chiefs' pass yards allowed per game

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