It’s halftime of the KC Chiefs’ Wild Card showdown against Tennessee Titans, and they lead the Titans 21-3 at Arrowhead Stadium. Here is Chiefs beat writer Terez A. Paylor’s quick analysis.
1. Love the early juice
Maybe you can attribute it to Andy Reid’s decision to rest most of his starters last week, but this team looks fresh and is playing with a ton of energy. Ty Hill, in particular, looks as fast as he has in a long time. Same goes for Justin Houston, who opened eyes by exploding off the snap on the first play (while logging a QB pressure). And how about Derrick Johnson’s stick on Marcus Mariota??!
2. Alex is letting it rip
The Chiefs’ offensive line bullied the Titans for a touchdown in a short-yardage situation in the first quarter, but this was always going to be a game that Alex Smith was going to have to win with his arm. The Titans are good at stopping the run, but that hasn’t bothered Smith, who was dealing in the first half. He’ll need to keep it up in the second half to finish these guys off. He has 231 yards passing and two touchdowns at the break.
3. Mariota looks over matched
The Chiefs are generally doing a nice job keeping Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota in the pocket. Mariota, in turn, has struggled with his accuracy, blowing a scoring chance when he threw a red-zone interception to Marcus Peters. If the Chiefs can keep him in the pocket, they’ll be OK.
4. Run D is solid
The Titans have tried to run the ball, but the Chiefs’ 25th-ranked run defense has been on point. I knew they were coming to play in the first quarter, when Chiefs inside linebacker Reggie Ragland met 247-pound Titans running back Derrick Henry in the hole and won.
5. It’s OK to believe if ...
... They win this game. Seriously. It looks like the September Chiefs are back in the mix, and if that’s true, that spells serious trouble for the rest of the league. When the offense is rolling and the defense is creating turnovers, this team is unbelievably difficult to stop.