Why the Tennessee Titans can upend the Kansas City Chiefs

Tennessee Titans are real Super Bowl contenders

By: Chris Thomas

Not too long ago the Tennessee Titans came within eleven points from completing their Cinderella story, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship, and making the Super Bowl. Instead, the Chiefs went on to defeat the San Fransisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV and representing the AFC in the Super Bowl this past season. At this point, Kansas City appears to be the odds on favorite to win the AFC and appear in the Super Bowl for the third year in a row. However, the Tennessee Titans may have the best chance of making sure that doesn’t happen. Here is why the Chiefs should be considered with the Titans more than any other team in the AFC. 

Outstanding weapons 

It wouldn’t be shocking if Tennessee finished the season as the league’s number one offense. It would be extremely shocking if they finished outside the top-10. The Titans not only have the back-to-back rushing champion in Derrick Henry but they also have two Pro Bowl-caliber receivers in A.J. Brown and Julio Jones. The Titans acquired Jones from the Atlanta Falcons after the draft for a 2022 second-round pick. He is not only a replacement for Corey Davis, who signed with the Jets in free agency, he is a major upgrade. If the Titans’ three offensive playmakers stay healthy they should be able to rack up 1,000+ yards rushing/receiving. 

It is fair to say that the Titans have passed the Chiefs as the team with the best offensive skill players. The Chiefs along with the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New Orleans Saints, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two offensive skill players on their roster that are capable of being named All-Pro at the end of the year. The Titans are not only the only other team in the AFC in that category but are the only team with three players capable of being named All-Pro at the end of the year. Kansas City hasn’t played a team with as much if not more firepower as them in the Patrick Mahomes era. That will change this season when the two meet in Week 7. The Chiefs’ defense features a few great players like Chris Jones, Tyrann Mathieu, and Frank Clark. However at best they are middle of the pack and do not have enough talent on that side of the ball to minimize the production of all three. 

Ability to control the clock

The Super Bowl this past year exposed the weaknesses that the Kansas City Chiefs had not exposed to the rest of the league the last few years. The way to beat the Chiefs is with a stout pass rush, not allowing Patrick Mahomes to make dynamic plays, and keeping the ball out of the offense’s hands. The Buccaneers’ pass rush did not allow Mahomes to make plays downfield and he had to resort to checking the ball behind the line of scrimmage or tossing it up hoping his receivers were in a position to make a play. While Tom Brady and the offense were able to hold the ball to control the clock more than the Chiefs during that game. Holding onto the ball and taking advantage of their offensive opportunities allowed them to dominate the Chiefs the way they did during that game. 

The Titans are well equipped to control the clock better than any other team in the league. They have the league’s most dominant running back over the last two seasons in Derrick Henry and a quarterback who is extremely smart with the ball in Ryan Tannehill. They have the firepower to get a lead early then hand the ball off to Henry over and over until the clock runs out. That has been the Titans’ bread and butter over the last two seasons. That firepower was just Henry last year and now it is their elite offensive trio that could get the Titans a lead early in games. Henry averaged a career-high 5.4 yards per carry last season. So if need be the Titans can rely on Henry to get them a first down in two or three downs, keep the clock rolling, and keep the ball out of the opponent’s hands. 

A lesser-discussed part of the Titans offense is how efficient Tannehill has been as a passer. Since taking over he is well aware that the passing game comes second behind their rushing attack. So he does not feel the pressure to make big plays that other quarterbacks do. Tannehill has only thrown 13 interceptions over the last two seasons because he doesn’t have to make the risky plays other quarterbacks do. Rather than making big plays downfield, Tannehill could throw short passes to move the chains and keep the clock moving. 

Similar Quarterback Production

The Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill is more than a game manager. He has shown the ability to make big plays and big moments, especially in the playoffs. In late December, CBS compared the statistics of Tannehill’s first 24 games as the Titans starter and Patrick Mahomes’ statistics last 24 games. The results of this comparison are shocking enough and help the argument that Tannehill should be considered one of the better quarterbacks in the league. 

Tannehill’s 114 passer rating beats Mahomes 105.9 passer rating during that span. However, Mahomes’ 6,983 passing yards is higher than Tannehill’s 6,080 passing yards. Shockingly Tannehill beat out Mahomes in total touchdowns with 61 to Mahomes’ 56. They both only threw 10 interceptions during that span. Finally, Tannehill had a higher completion percentage completing 67.7% of his passes while Mahomes completed 66.4% of his passes. If this was a competition Tannehill beat out Mahomes with a final score of 3-1-1 out producing him in three categories.

Now it is unlikely that Tannehill will join Mahomes in the best in the league conversation unless he takes home the league MVP this season. But the stats do show that the two are closer than many think. If it came to a battle of the better quarterback it may end up being a toss-up between the two.

Revamped Defense

This offseason the Titans have focused on retooling their defense. Last year the Titans’ defense was not good enough to get the team back to the AFC Championship. So they got rid of multiple starters including Jadeveon Clowney, Kenny Vaccaro, Adoree Jackson, Desmond King II, and Malcolm Butler. They went out and added big-name free agents like Bud Dupree, Denico Autry, and Janoris Jenkins. Then Tennesee drafted three defensive players with their first four selections including first-round pick Caleb Farley, second-round pick Monty Rice, and third-round pick Elijah Molden. 

It appears that Tennessee swapped out their strength in the secondary to increase the talent level of their pass rush. Four members of the Titans starting secondary were cut during free agency but they signed two high caliber pass rushers to go along with the pass rushers they already had on their roster. Harold Landry has had 14.5 sacks for Tennesee over the last two years and former first-round pick Jeffrey Simmons is closing in on becoming one of the best defensive tackles in the league after his play the last two seasons. Now the Titans added Dupree who could very well have double-digit sacks and be named to the Pro Bowl this season and one of the most underrated pass rushers in the league the last couple of seasons Denico Autry. Dupree has had 19.5 sacks over his last 27 games. While Autry discretely had 20 sacks over the last three seasons in Indianapolis. The Titans should have no problem getting after opposing quarterbacks next season and beyond. 

The reason why Tennessee may have changed the emphasis of their defense from an outstanding coverage team to a dominant pass rush likely has to do with the Super Bowl. Todd Bowles’s defense in Tampa Bay relies more on the play of their front seven than back seven. Their defensive line, pass rushers, and linebackers are all Pro Bowl-caliber players while their secondary is made up of young early draft picks who are capable of playing good enough coverage but are not considered lockdown. A defense with that makeup was able to defeat Tennessee’s biggest rival in Kansas City in the Super Bowl. So Titans’ general manager Jon Robinson decided to remake their defense in Tampa Bay’s image to get past the team standing between them and the Super Bowl. 

3 reasons why Clyde Edwards Helaire will really be a Pro Bowler in 2021

Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards Helaire will be a star in 2021

Clyde Edwards-Helaire, the all purpose running back out of LSU, has high expectations entering year two of his career. The Kansas City Chiefs elected not to bring back veteran RB Le’Veon Bell, nor draft a RB early with hopes of CEH proclaiming the draft stature he was given. 

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the RB that Patrick Mahomes personally wanted to be drafted. Many fanatics are harsh on the Chiefs halfback for not quite living up to his first round bill in 2020. However, it’s well seen that Helaire is a very talented player, amid a well oiled machine offense, and will be given the opportunities to oust high success in 2021. 

It’s apparent that Helaire showed potential last season with his rushing yard tally that was knocking on the door of a 1,000 yard season (803 yds). I fully expect CEH to crack the 1,000 yard mark and likely oust around 1500+ all purpose yards. Here is why CEH will take the next step, which ultimately should earn him a Pro Bowl nod.

  • Improved OL 

The KC Chiefs offensive line was a musical chairs performance throughout the 2020-2021 season. The stud Mitchell Schwartz played in a mere six games, while Kelechi Osmele played in only five matchups. When CEH found rushing success early on, it was largely due to Osmele’s ability to maul defenders in his path. Osmele and Schwartz are no longer on the roster.

The Chiefs decided to not let their wounds heal on the OL, but rather acquire upgrades upfront. The reigning AFC champion signed OG Joe Thuney and made a blockbuster trade by acquiring LT Orlando Brown from the Ravens. The Chiefs undoubtedly improved their offensive line from a weak link into possessing one of the top AFC offensive line units. There is still a chance Mitchell Schwartz opts to return to the club. 

  • Absence of Le’Veon Bell 

Le’Veon Bell wasn’t his All Pro self in KC, but he was an effective, involved weapon. He eked out 350 total yards and had 63 carries in the running game. CEH should see a noticeable increase in carries behind a titan like offensive line with Bell out of the building, which should result in an improved running effort from the second year RB. It’s also been reported by ESPN that Mahomes and Helaire have discussed with the Chiefs about a stronger passing game to the RBs. The team’s No. two wideout is currently Mecole Hardman, who recorded a mere 560 yards last season. CEH should get significantly more involved in the run and pass game and it helps he’s the lead back with no true 1B in the offense.

  • Travis Kelce playing like a HOF TE

It’s no surprise that Travis Kelce was one of the best TEs in the league entering the 2020 season. At the eclipse of the 2020 campaign, it’s well documented that Kelce isn’t just elite, but the best TE in the NFL. His 105-1,416-11 mark was one of the best seasons from the TE spot of all time. Defenses now know that the TE can take over games with his superb connection to Mahomes. There will be extra precaution taken from the AFC West defenses and the rest of the NFL next season. CEH should see more dump passes, play action plays, and overall production with extra attention being demanded to Kelce.

Are the Chiefs or Buccaneers more likely to return to the Super Bowl?

By: Jeremy Trottier

As pretty much all football fans know by now, the Super Bowl LIV matchup this season was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. the Kansas City Chiefs.  With that said, both teams have had extremely different offseasons in terms of the draft and how they worked on their roster.  The Buccaneers have been more tame and kept all 22 of their SB starters, while the Chiefs have been revamping their roster quite a bit.

In this article, I will be going over which of these two teams is more likely to repeat their conference championship wins and return for SB 56 this coming season.

Signings/Cutting Comparison

Like I mentioned previously, these two teams have had vastly different offseasons.  The Buccaneers retained every starting 22 player from last season, while making a few signings such as:

  • RB – Giovanni Bernard
  • LB – Ladarius Hamilton
  • CB – Nate Brooks
  • CB – Dee Delaney

Overall, they have not made too many moves to change their roster from last season, they are taking the “don’t fix what’s not broken” approach to things.  

Meanwhile the Chiefs have had a complete overhaul of a few different positions, and have really been moving their team around.  Their signings and cuts look as such:

Additions:

  • OT Orlando Brown (via trade)
  • RB Jerrick McKinnon (signing)
  • LB Kamalei Correa (signing)
  • G Kyle Long (signing)
  • G Joe Thuney (Signing)
  • C Austin Blythe (signing)
  • CB Mike Hughes (via trade)

As well as other depth pieces.  In terms of losses however, they have the following:

  • RT Mitchell Schwartz (released)
  • LT Eric Fisher (released)
  • WR Tajae Sharpe (released)

The Chiefs have definitely added more than they have lost as of now, and have made major additions to their offensive line.  The Chiefs have definitely made more productive moves than the Buccaneers have, as the Bucs were more focused on re-signings and tagging their players.

Major Draft Picks

In total the Bucs had seven draft picks that they used, and the Chiefs had six, so they were relatively close in quantity.  In terms of quality, the Bucs had a first round pick while the Chiefs did not (due to the Orlando Brown trade).  With that said, both teams got relatively even value our of their picks, both for future needs and current needs.

The biggest three players I would mention for the Buccaneers are Joe Tryon LB from Washington, Kyle Trask QB from Florida, and Jaelon Darden WR from North Texas.  Tryon will be a fantastic addition to the Bucs 3-4 defense, where they already have Jason Pierre-Paul (may move to edge with this draft pick), Devin White, Lavonte Davis, and Shaquil Barrett.  Kyle Trask is much more of a future pick, where he will learn from Tom Brady up until his eventual retirement, in which Trask will be prepared to take over.  Jalen Darden is just a nice speed addition to the receiving core who will likely fill the role of Antonio Brown once he either retires or leaves.

The three biggest Chiefs picks were Nick Bolton LB from Missouri, Creed Humphrey C from Oklahoma, and Cornell Powell WR from Clemson.  Nick Bolton will be a fantastic addition to the Chiefs front-7 where his run stopping and pure strength based game will be hugely helpful for KC.  Creed Humphrey will fill the center role likely between Thuney and Kyle Long, where he can learn from both while starting at this rate.  Finally Cornell Powell, who while being a relatively raw prospect could take over as WR2 in a year or two time.

Conclusion

Overall, factoring in divisions and offseason moves, the Chiefs should have the better shot to make the Super Bowl again next season.  Despite the Buccaneers retaining their starters, the Chiefs have new weapons to work with and hypothetically what should be an easier division depending upon how the Saints, Panthers, and Chargers all perform.

Why Tampa Bay and Kansas City won the offseason

Chiefs and Buccaneers won the offseason

By: Andy Davies

“Who has won the offseason?”. This is an age-old question that is often asked after free agency and the draft.

Teams are often said to have won free agency or won the draft, therefore being held the ‘Offseason Champions’. This rarely translates to success on the field. In truth, no one knows when a player is drafted or signed in Free Agency how they will perform for their new team.

Two teams that in my opinion, that won the offseason, are the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and here is why.

Addressing The Areas Of Need In Kansas City

The Chiefs lost 31-9 to Tampa Bay in Super Bowl 55 just over three months ago and there was one clear issue that needed to be addressed, the offensive line.

Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwarz were the two notable absentees in the o-line as the replacements failed to protect the former MVP and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.

This limited the Chiefs to just three field goals all game, despite possessing the most exciting offense in the league.

Kansas City made the moves in the offseason to address this glaring need. There was a questionable start when both Fisher and Schwartz, who were missed in the Super Bowl, were released.

However, Joe Thuney walked through the door after five seasons and two Super Bowl rings with the New England Patriots. Kyle Long also joined in free agency via the Chicago Bears before the Chiefs traded for Baltimore Ravens lineman Orlando Brown.

People would have not been blamed for thinking the Chiefs had acquired all the offensive lineman they needed. Instead, the Chiefs continued to acquire offensive line help through the draft.

Oklahoma centre Creed Humphrey was acquired with the 63rd overall pick, as was Tennessee guard Trey Smith in the sixth round.

During the entire three seasons in college with the Sooners, Humphrey allowed 0 sacks and just 28 quarterback pressures from 1,297 passing-blocking snaps.

Linebacker has also been a position that has been an understated need and the Chiefs went out and took Missouri linebacker Nick Boulton with the 58th overall pick.

Clemson wide receiver Cornell Powell was also taken to replace the departing Sammy Watkins, who left for the Baltimore Ravens in Free Agency.

The Chiefs have done exactly what any team should do, and what the great teams always do. They have gone out and efficiently acquired help for positions of needs.

Familiar Faces In Tampa Bay

In the salary cap era, Super Bowl-winning teams often have issues bringing players back.

Tampa Bay have brought all of their starters back in their attempts to ‘Go For Two’.

This in itself is a reason why the Buccaneers have won the offseason. They have players coming back who showed they know the system well by winning the NFL’s greatest prize in February.

Quarterback Tom Brady is likely to have one or two years left in him at the very minimum. Having offensive weapons such as Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Leonard Fournette and Antonio Brown available will allow Tampa Bay to once again go far in the postseason.

Defensive studs such as Shaq Barrett and Lavonte David were two of the starters to come back. Along with Jason Pierre-Paul, the Buccaneers can keep one of the best defensive units in the NFL.

Tampa Bay have added depth to their roster, with Washington linebacker Joe Tyron being drafted 32nd overall. Florida Gators quarterback Kyle Trask was taken in the second round. He will be a backup for at least two or three seasons and who better to learn from than the greatest quarterback of all time?

Notre Dame offensive tackle Robert Hainsey, Auburn linebacker K.J. Britt, BYU cornerback Chris Wilcox and Houston linebacker Grant Stuard were also some of the players taken the draft.

These players were taken along with North Texas wide receiver Jaelon Darden, who could prove to be a sleeper pick after recording two double-digit touchdown college seasons and 1,926 receiving yards across 2019 and 2020.

Both the Chiefs and Buccaneers have both set themselves for success and with their decisions so far this offseason, it would not be a shock if they were to both be back for a Super Bowl rematch in February.

Kansas City Chiefs: 4 Reasons Why They Didn’t Repeat Super Bowl Victories

Why didn’t Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl LV?

By: Martin Williams

One year on from winning their first Super Bowl in 50 years, and days after a crushing defeat to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as they looked to defend their title, the Kansas City Chiefs have a long offseason to think about what could have been. 

We take a look back at what changed in 12 months, and the four things that stopped them from taking the Lombardi Trophy back to Arrowhead Stadium;

1. Even the best quarterbacks need protection
Since he began as the starter in KC three years ago, there’s not a lot Mahomes hasn’t achieved. He’s set record after record. In his first year as a starter he became the league MVP and in his second he went one further, helping the Chiefs to the Super Bowl title, being named Super Bowl MVP in the process. He’s achieved more in three years than many will in their careers. But if Super Bowl 55 taught us anything, it’s that even the best need protection. 

There aren’t too many better than Mahomes when it comes to escaping pressure. In fact, the Chiefs are probably at their most dangerous when Mahomes gets out of the pocket before going off script. 

But Tampa Bay’s front lived in the Chiefs backfield on Sunday. Injuries to offensive linemen Mitchell Shwartz in week six and Eric Fisher in the AFC Championships game were too much to overcome against the Bucs. The signs were there during the Chiefs first set of downs, with Mahomes facing pressure from a relentless Bucs front. Mahomes scrambled for a staggering 497 yards during 60 minutes of game time. That one stat paints a picture of what went wrong on the night.

2. They were playing Tom Brady, not Jimmy G
In Super Bowl 54 the Chiefs faced a sturdy defense in the San Francisco 49ers that for the large part kept them at bay. They as good as nullified the Chiefs for three quarters only for Mahomes and running back Damien Williams to get it done late on. 

But as the Chiefs were unable to put points on the board against the Bucs, Tom Brady and his array of weapons went to work on Kansas. The trio of Antonio Brown, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin alongside tight end Rob Gronkowski, are as good as any in the league, and with Brady conducting things, they were always going to put points on the board. Against a Chiefs secondary that had impressed in their playoff run were no match for a Brady-led offense that wasn’t about to let the opportunity slip.

3. Mistakes proved costly
Against the very best teams in the NFL, making mistakes can be costly. KC made too many in Super Bowl 55. 

On offense, despite the pressure Mahomes was under, he still managed to find his receivers on several occasions. He threw for 270 yards on the night, and it could’ve been more but for three or four key drops from his receivers. The most memorable pass of the night was actually incomplete, with Mahomes scrambling and releasing the ball whilst horizontal to the ground, only for it to go through the hands of Darrell Williams in the end zone. 

On the other side of the ball, penalties in the first half gave Tampa all the encouragement they needed. Two penalties in succession, with the second against Tyrann Mathieu, put Tampa down at the one-yard line with seconds remaining on the clock in the second quarter. A touchdown followed, and Tampa didn’t really look back.

It’s rare that you can question Head Coach Andy Reid too, but his decision to take a time-out on that very drive just before the half, also proved costly. That and an inability to change the game plan when it clearly wasn’t working. They’re a pass-first team, but it took the Chiefs until mid way through the third quarter before they really got running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire in to the game. It should’ve happened sooner.

4. Tampa learned from their week 12 loss
In week 12, Kansas were 17-0 up after a first quarter that saw Tyreek Hill torch the Bucs for more than 200 yards. Tampa learned from their mistakes come the Super Bowl. By pressuring Mahomes, and by putting double-coverage on ‘The Cheetah’ and Travis Kelce, they stopped the chunk plays that were so devastating in the regular season. 

Most teams have been trying to do the same thing to the Chiefs all season, the difference being that the Bucs were able to implement it with success. 

The Chiefs offence is anything but predictable, but they looked like they were out of ideas the longer the game went on. By taking away Mahomes’ first and second read, he was left running for his life, trying to create something from nothing. It was a masterful scheme from Bucs defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, and one that could get him another shot at a head-coaching role in the near future.

So, what does it all mean?
There’s no doubt that injuries to their offensive line were the key factor in their blowout loss. With Shwartz and Fisher available, it could well have been a different story. But the Chiefs now have an offseason to regroup, as they look to build the dynasty they continue to talk about. 

Mahomes is a generational talent. With Reid scheming up the offense, and with additions on the defensive side of the ball likely in this year’s draft, my bet is that they’ll be back in the Super Bowl next year, ready to put right what went wrong at Raymond James Stadium.

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