The Tennessee Titans and Kansas City Chiefs are getting what they want out of their defenses, but which team deserves our NFL picks? That’s our question as we move into the third week of the preseason.
What We Know About The Coaches
Ken Whisenhunt of the Titans is 11-20 in the preseason and 1-1 this preseason after his team defeated the St. Louis Rams last week. The Titans made definite improvements from week one, looking a lot sharper in all phases of play.
Andy Reid of Kansas City is 30-36 in the preseason and 2-0 this preseason after his Chiefs beat the Seattle Seahawks last week. Kansas City’s defense was outstanding, but the offense needs a lot of work after giving up a touchdown on an interception. Alex Smith needs to polish his game before the real thing starts in the middle of September. Give a slight edge to the Titans here, though it’s not a significant one.
The Marcus Mariota journey took a big step forward in game two of the preseason. Mariota looked a lot more comfortable against the Rams, and when his in-helmet communication device malfunctioned in the first quarter, he calmly handled the situation and guided the Titans’ offense effectively. Tennessee did score seven of its points on a pick-six, though, so it’s not as though the Titans won that game because of their offense. Mariota needs to show he can do well in consecutive games.
The Chiefs are getting what they want out of number two quarterback Chase Daniel, who led another touchdown drive last week and has not turned the ball over in the preseason. However, Alex Smith does need playing time in this game. He needs to show he can lead this offense to touchdowns. Smith did not throw a single touchdown pass to a wide receiver last season. He needs to get going as a playmaking quarterback. He should get a lot of snaps here, and that should work in favor of the Chiefs.
Team Depth & Rotations
The Titans have some progress to point to on offense – they moved Andy Levitre down the depth chart on the offensive line; put Byron Bell at left guard; and Jeremiah Poutasi at right tackle. The new combination helped running back Bishop Sankey average over seven yards per carry against the Rams; he had averaged 1.9 yards per carry the week before against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Chiefs are dealing with offensive line injuries: Left tackle Eric Fisher and right guard Jeff Allen did not play, and replacements Paul Fanaika and Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff both played poorly against Seattle. Jamaal Charles is being rested at running back, and center Mitch Morse, a second-round draft pick, was also sluggish and ineffective against the Seahawks.
Outlook & Pick
The Chiefs might be more motivated, but as long as Tennessee’s defense continues to play physically and well, Kansas City has too many gaps and limitations on its offensive line to be able to score at a high rate. The Chiefs just need those linemen to be ready for opening day at this point. Take Tennessee for Friday's NFL picks.
NFL Pick: Titans +4.5 at BetOnline