Chiefs-Titans players to watch? Keep an eye on KC and Tennessee’s linebackers Sunday

·3 min read

As good as Derrick Henry was against the Bills on Monday, good enough to be named AFC Offensive Player of the Week after rushing for 143 yards and three touchdowns, a key to Tennessee’s 34-31 triumph was holding Buffalo to field goals in the first quarter.

The Bills could have put a huge dent in the game. But after Buffalo reached the Titans’ 5- and 10-yard line on two of their first three possessions, Tennessee’s defense held and forced field goals.

When the Chiefs aren’t committing turnovers, they’ve been sticking the ball in the end zone. They’ve committed five of their 13 offensive turnovers in the red zone and are still ranked sixth in the NFL in a key measure: They’re scoring touchdowns on 71% of their trips inside an opponent’s 20.

Take care of the ball, and the Chiefs would be the NFL’s top-scoring team, instead of ranking second at 30.8 points per game.

Here are some players (other than quarterbacks Patrick Mahomes and Ryan Tannehill, and Tennessee running back Derrick Henry) who could be difference-makers on Sunday.

Chiefs running back Darrel Williams

His first NFL start went well. Williams rushed for 62 yards with two touchdowns. He showed nice cutback ability and ran well as a short-yardage power back. He also served as a safety valve for Mahomes, who found him three times on passes totaling 27 yards. Tennessee’s defense may present more opportunities for Williams and fellow KC back Jerick McKinnon to be used more in the passing game.

Chiefs linebacker Nick Bolton

The rookie from Mizzou is coming off one of his best games: nine tackles, including one for a loss, at Washington. But his tackling skills figure to be tested in a big way Sunday against Henry. Chiefs defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said that first collision could be memorable. “I still don’t think you’re going to get the real feel for what it’s going to be like when you get the first hit,” he said.

Titans wide receiver A.J. Brown

Brown tweeted early in the week that he couldn’t keep food down, but he practiced on Friday and is expected to play against the Chiefs. He was Tannehill’s top target in the Titans’ win against the Bills on Monday, hauling in nine receptions. The third-year pro is a big-play threat. He was a Pro Bowler last year and made the NFL All-Rookie team in 2019.

Titans linebacker Harold Landry

Bills quarterback Josh Allen had some success against the Titans, passing for 353 yards and rushing for 26 Monday night. That’s a good line for any quarterback. But Tennessee made things difficult for Allen at times, and Landry was a big reason why. He recorded two of the Titans’ three sacks and now has 6 1/2 this season. He’ll be counted on heavily against Mahomes and a Chiefs passing game that will no doubt aim to exploit a Titans secondary that’s been weakened by injuries.

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