NASHVILLE – Eight weeks into the 2022 season, the Tennessee Titans are not exactly the talk of the NFL. Yes, they are 5-2 and in first place in the AFC South. Yes, they have an AFC-best five-game win streak following last Sunday’s 17-10 victory at Houston. Yes, they have the 2021 Coach of the Year in Mike Vrabel and a leading candidate for 2022 Comeback Player of the Year in Derrick Henry. Their offense, though, is last in the NFL in yards per game at 285.6. They have not scored more than 24 points in any contest, and they are one of two first-place teams (Atlanta is the other) that has allowed more points (138) than they have scored (132).Those numbers are in stark contrast to those of the undefeated Philadelphia Eagles (8-0), the Buffalo Bills (6-1) and – among others – the Kansas City Chiefs (5-2), who host the Titans in a prime-time matchup Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium. Those teams have high-powered offenses that have produced occasional blowouts and have kept fans on the edge of their seats.
There is at least one person willing to speak up on behalf of the Titans, though. “This is a team that is a lot better than I think a lot of people out on social media and in media [realize] – they don’t really talk about them,” Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “But we know that it’s a great football team coming to town. We have to play our best football.” Mahomes has faced the Titans twice in the regular season during his career and is winless in those contests. He has averaged 326 passing yards and 7.7 yards per attempt in those games. The latter is one full yard below his career average. He has thrown just three touchdown passes with one interception and has been sacked three times. Last season, he managed just 206 passing yards and one interception in a Week 7 matchup at Nissan Stadium as Tennessee cruised to a 27-3 triumph. “It wasn’t just them beating us, but we played bad and they kind of just put it down on us at the end of the day,” Mahomes said. “So, for us, we have to come in with a better mentality because we understand that they’re ready to go and they’re going to have confidence, so we have to make sure we have that confidence to back up our play as well. “… Last year we weren’t ready, and they beat our (butts).”
Led by Mahomes, Kansas City’s offense is second in the NFL in passing offense, second in total offense, second in yards per play, first in third-down conversion rate and – most importantly – first in points per game. In fact, the Chiefs’ point totals in six of their seven games tops Tennessee’s average of 18.9 per contest. The Titans are happy to let their results speak for themselves, though. “We want to win a championship,” quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. “Whatever it takes to score more points than the other team each and every week, that is our job. “… You play to win. It doesn’t matter if you have some prolific offense or some prolific defense but you can’t find ways to win games. Then what are we doing it for it? The ultimate goal is to go win games each and every week.” The game between the Tennessee and Kansas City is one of just two on this week’s schedule that matches teams with winning records (Buffalo at the New York Jets is the other). Yet the Titans are an 11.5-point underdog, according to SI Sportsbook, which is the biggest spread among all of Sunday’s games. Who knows? A win in this one, and they might just silence some of the doubters.