Chiefs vs. Titans AFC Championship Game betting guide
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Titans at Chiefs Odds & Picks: AFC Championship
- Odds: Chiefs -7.5
- Over/Under: 52.5
- Kickoff: 3:05 p.m. ET
- TV Channel: CBS
The Chiefs’ hopes of returning to the AFC Championship looked dim when they fell behind, 24-0, to the Texans in the first half of the Divisional Round. But then Patrick Mahomes did what Patrick Mahomes does, and the Chiefs pulled out a historic comeback.
The public seems to be riding that high one week later, with more than 60% of bettors backing the Chiefs to cover the 7.5-point spread against the Titans in the conference title game.
Our experts preview Sunday’s showdown at Arrowhead Stadium, featuring a pick on the over/under and a look at our projected odds.
Titans-Chiefs Injury Report
Which team is healthier? Titans
TE Travis Kelce (knee) was removed from Friday’s injury report, which was expected, but the Chiefs do have two players listed as questionable: DL Chris Jones (calf) and RB LeSean McCoy (illness). Both got in limited practices on Friday, which is encouraging. Jones would be the most critical loss because he’s one of the league’s best pass-rushers whereas McCoy didn’t record a single touch last week.
CB Logan Ryan was removed from the Titans’ injury report, but every other player was listed as questionable. Considering they all got in limited practices throughout the week, it’s likely most of them are trending toward playing.
WR Adam Humphries (ankle) could make his first appearance since Week 13. — Justin Bailey
Sean Koerner’s Projected Odds
- Projected Spread: Chiefs -7.5
- Projected Total: 50.5
Biggest Mismatch That Favors the Titans
RB Derrick Henry vs. Chiefs Run Defense
The one edge the Titans have isn’t hard to figure out: It’s the NFL’s rushing leader.
Henry is a total throwback to the hard-nosed days of yore with his John Riggins-esque dominance, and like a massive locomotive picking up speed, Henry has steadily gained momentum over the past two years. Now h’e’s the human embodiment of Ozzy’s crazy train.
Since Week 17 of 2017 — his first NFL game without DeMarco Murray — Henry has averaged 17.9 carries, 89.2 yards and 0.83 touchdowns rushing in 36 games.
Since Week 14 of 2018 — when he broke out as the locked-in lead back for the Titans — Henry has averaged 21.6 carries, 119.1 yards and 1.14 touchdowns rushing in 21 games.
Since Week 7 — when quarterback Ryan Tannehill made his first start for the Titans — Henry has averaged 23.1 carries, 136 yards and 1.18 touchdowns rushing in 11 games.
Since Week 17 — when the Titans played what was essentially a win-and-advance playoff game — Henry has averaged 32 carries, 196 yards and 1.33 touchdowns rushing over three games.
That Henry could get fewer than 18 carries in this game is almost unthinkable, and if the Titans are to have any chance of winning, they will likely need Henry to carry them to victory.
Fortunately for them, they have a good matchup: The Titans are No. 5 in rush offense while the Chiefs are No. 29 in rush defense (per Pro Football Focus grades and Football Outsiders’ DVOA).
The Chiefs are especially poor at linebacker. Starters Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson respectively have 39.2 and 56.3 PFF run defense grades, and the Chiefs defense ranks No. 31 in second-level yards allowed per run (per Football Outsiders): If a running back gets five to 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, the Chiefs struggle to limit his yardage.
As it happens, the Titans are No. 3 in second-level yards per run. When Henry gets going, there aren’t many linebackers who can slow him down.
On top of that, the potential absence of Pro-Bowl run-stuffing defensive tackle Jones (calf) could make the Chiefs especially exploitable on the ground.
With his recent usage and this matchup, Henry has the upside to get 200 yards and multiple touchdowns rushing. — Matthew Freedman
Biggest Mismatch That Favors the Chiefs
Chiefs Pass Offense vs. Titans Pass Defense
While the Titans offense will focus on controlling the ball with Henry, their key to winning this game relies on defending the Chiefs’ passing game.
The Titans ranked 21st in pass defense DVOA during the regular season. Despite registering 43 sacks on the season, Tennessee also allowed the seventh-most passing yards to opposing quarterbacks.
Wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce should be able to exploit big positional mismatches.
Hill had his best game of the season against the Titans in Week 10 with 11 receptions for 157 yards and a touchdown. He was guarded by Adoree’ Jackson, who finished 66th with a -15.3 cover rating (PlayerProfiler).
Kelce should also be able to take advantage of a defense that allowed the fourth-most fantasy points and third-most receiving touchdowns to opposing tight ends.
Patrick Mahomes’ production regressed this season, particularly after his patella dislocation in Week 7. However, excluding Week 17, he’s averaged 299 passing yards over his past four games with a total of 11 touchdown passes. His rushing yards have also increased, tallying 53 yards on the ground last week in their 51-31 win over the Texans.
The Titans will also need to limit the passing game production of the Chiefs running backs, as they allowed the second-most receptions (101) to opposing backfields. Damien Williams caught all five of his targets for 32 yards in that Week 10 matchup, and finished with 21 receiving yards and a receiving touchdown in the Divisional Round.
With a Hill, Kelce and a depth of passing game playmakers, Mahomes has a strong chance to crest 300 passing yards and multiple touchdown passes. — Mike Randle
Freedman: Under 52.5
Outdoor postseason games have trended to the under with a record of 77-58-4, good for a 10.5% return on investment.
And whenever the Chiefs are home, I almost always bet the under anyway. That didn’t work out well for me in the Divisional Round, but I expect the market will be too bullish on the over because of the 82 points scored in Kansas City.
Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to play, and I expect the Titans to lean on the ground game, given that Henry is currently in god mode and the Chiefs are No. 29 in run defense DVOA.
With a run-heavy attack, the Titans are likely to slow the game down, which could drive the total to the under. They’ve leaned on the run in both of their playoff games, and the under is 2-0.
It might seem counterintuitive to bet the under when one of the league’s best offenses is at home, but under head coach Andy Reid, the Chiefs actually have an under record of 36-23-1 at home (including playoffs, 18.9% ROI).
Since 2013, no home coach has been more profitable for under bettors than Reid.