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Week 5 Game Preview: Titans vs. Chiefs


Last season, the Colts pulled off one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds in NFL history and the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans may have been taking notes, because with 4-0 and 3-1 records, respectively, both squads seem to be vying for the title of “Biggest Pleasant Surprise of 2013.”

Of course, the real title each team wants is Super Bowl champion and although the mere thought of either of these teams reaching that goal was laughable about a month ago, there aren’t many fans or bettors scoffing at Kansas City or Tennessee’s AFC contender statuses now.

There’s certainly a lot of football left to be played, but a win for either team this weekend would put it on the fast track for the playoffs after five weeks, a position no one expected these two franchises to be close to, after seeing Kansas City finish 2-14 and Tennessee finish 6-10 in 2012.

The Chiefs have yet to square off against the undisputed best team in the AFC, the Denver Broncos, but they will battle a formidable foe in the Titans on Sunday, who should prove to be a measuring stick for one of the few remaining unbeaten teams in the league.

However, the Titans were dealt a serious blow this week with the announcement that starting quarterback Jake Locker – who had shown vast improvement at the position in the first few games – will miss this weekend’s game with a hip strain. An MRI revealed no major damage, but there’s no way we’ll see him suit up against the Chiefs.

Fortunately for Tennessee, it has a capable and experienced backup in Ryan Fitzpatrick to fill in at QB this week. Fitzpatrick finished last week’s win over the Jets following the Locker injury, and completed three of eight throws for 108 yards and a touchdown. Fitzpatrick enjoyed a moderate amount of success with the Buffalo Bills from 2009-2012, but he did start all 16 games for Buffalo the past two seasons and some would argue, is about as reliable of a backup as you’ll find in the league.

Still, Fitzpatrick is a downgrade from the more versatile Locker. Should the Chiefs be able to apply pressure, Fitzpatrick will be easier to sack and he’s also prone to make some mistakes from time to time. With one of the league’s pass defenses, Kansas City should be licking its chops.

Offensively, the Chiefs will aim to attack Tennessee on the ground and pick their spots to throw downfield with Alex Smith, who has played exceptionally well so far with his new team. Smith has throw for nearly 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns through the first four games of the season, while only tossing two interceptions.

The Titans should remain competitive with Fitzpatrick under center, but we have to like the undefeated Chiefs this week. They have plenty of positive momentum rolling and strength on both sides of the ball. Take Kansas City to cover -3 on Sunday.

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