The Tennessee Titans are coming off five straight wins, setting some sort of NFL record. Entering Week 9, the Titans are looking to extend their run to six when they face the Kansas City Chiefs on the road in Week 9 of the 2022 NFL season. A win here will put even more distance between the Titans and the other teams in the AFC South. Here are our Tennessee Titans Week 9 predictions as they take on the Chiefs.
When the Titans visit Kansas City on Sunday Night Football in Week 9, they will attempt to extend their division lead. Recall that Tennessee defeated the Houston Texans in Week 8 courtesy of Derrick Henry's 228 total yards and two touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Chiefs enter this game fresh off a bye week. Kansas City annihilated the San Francisco 49ers in Week 7 with a 44-23 victory. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes threw for 423 yards and three touchdowns, while Mecole Hardman scored twice on the ground.
With all these in mind, here are our four bold predictions for the Tennessee Titans in their Week 9 game against the Chiefs.
Game Preview 📖: #Titans Travel to Kansas City for Sunday Night Football
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 3, 2022
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4. Titans passing game struggles big time
Tennessee's passing game was already suffering, but a handicapped Ryan Tannehill would make things much worse here. That's especially since his movement is limited and the offensive line just cannot give adequate protection. Tannehill has been sacked 14 times this season, while backup Malik Willis was sacked thrice last week.
For better or worse, the Titans are also fans of older wide receivers who have passed their prime. Robert Woods is a prime example. So far this season, the 30-year-old has a 22.5 percent target share, with three red zone targets, and three deep targets. At best, he'll be WR1 with a limping Tannehill under center. Realistically speaking, though, there's no way to get Woods into any real action if the Titans go with Willis like in Week 8.
So the Titans basically have two choices here — suffer through a hampered Ryan Tannehill or suffer through an unproven Malik Willis. Either way, their passing game will struggle.
3. Titans pass rush gets to Mahomes multiple times
We expect Rashad Weaver to return for Week 9. The Tennessee outside linebacker was ruled out with a back issue last week but practiced fully earlier this week. He has been a standout pass-rusher for the Titans, ranking third on the team behind Denico Autry and Jeffery Simmons with four sacks. That tough defensive front of Tennessee also features Bud Dupree and Teair Tart. They have been rock-solid for this squad amidst their big win streak.
Last week, in fact, they sacked Houston QB Davis Mills three times. According to Sports Info Solutions, those aforementioned five guys have already combined for 73 pressures, 34 quarterback hits, and 14.5 sacks.
We see them continuing their ferocious performance in Week 9. Count on the Titans pass rush to sack Mahomes three times as well.
2. Tennessee's ground game will grind to a halt
Tennessee has relied almost exclusively on Henry to carry the offense thus far. In fact, he's averaging an absurd 25.7 touches each game. That means the game clock is almost always running. However, he is unlikely to have much success against a Chiefs defense that allows only 4.2 yards per rush. That's tied for the seventh-fewest in the NFL this season.
Henry actually norms 127.9 total yards per game. He currently totes a tenth-place snap share and is fifth-place in red zone touches. He's in a good rhythm right now, ranking third in breakaway runs and ninth in yards generated.
Meanwhile, Dontrell Hilliard rushed eight times for 83 yards and caught one pass for 12 yards in the Titans' Week 8 victory over the Texans. Hilliard took advantage of his opportunity when workhorse Derrick Henry was resting, averaging 10.4 yards per carry against a weak Houston running defense.
The Chiefs, however, have a strong ground defense. They are very good at limiting rushing yards. In fact, they have allowed just 644 total rushing yards this season. Ironically, only the Titans allow fewer yards on the ground. We expect the Titans ground game to grind to a halt in this game and put up under 120 total yards.
1. No Tannehill, no victory for Tennessee
Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill was unable to play in Week 8 due to an ankle injury. He missed his first start since being the designated starter in 2019. Tannehill was allowed to return to practice in a limited capacity on Wednesday, giving the impression he might play against the Chiefs on Sunday.
Even if he does play, Tannehill will be far from 100 percent, which will not be enough against the Chiefs. In his absence, the Titans will rely on Malik Willis, who has had only 14 total attempts this season. That is not a winning strategy.
On the flip side, Tennessee has had Kansas City on the ropes recently. Mahomes carries a 1-3 record versus the Titans, including a humiliating 27-3 loss to them in October last season. However, for Mahomes, this game appears to be more of a chance for vengeance than a chance for another defeat.
The reality is that the Titans don't even know who will start at quarterback. Tannehill is far from fully recovered, while Willis is an unknown commodity. He'd have to attempt to stay up with a Kansas City team that is first in the league with 31.9 points per game. That's a tall ask for any QB, but even more so for someone like Willis. We have the Chiefs snapping the Titan's win streak and coasting to a double-digit win in this one.