KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET, CBS, Kevin Harlan, Solomon Wilcots
SERIES HISTORY: 47th regular-season meeting. Chiefs lead series, 26-20. One of the more memorable moments in the series was in 2000 when Titans QB Steve McNair suffered a sternum injury on a hit from the Chiefs’ Duane Clemons. McNair would have trouble with the sternum off and on until having surgery to repair it in 2004.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Backup QB Ryan Fitzpatrick is no longer a starter in Buffalo because he was an interception machine — 61 picks in 43 starts over the past four seasons with the Bills. He’s in for injured Jake Locker (hip), who had zero turnovers this season, and the Titans are asking him to manage — not win by himself — the offense. The Titans need to run the ball effectively with Chris Johnson, something that won’t be easy against the tough Chiefs front seven. The Titans have to keep the ball in manageable down and distance so as not to put Fitzpatrick in dangerous (read: interception-prone) situations. The Titans lean on a defense with an improved pass rush, knowing that stuffing the run and RB Jamaal Charles is a must if the tactic of putting the game in QB Alex Smith’s hands can be effective.
MATCHUP TO WATCH
- Chiefs NT Dontari Poe vs. Titans C Rob Turner: Poe played college ball at Memphis, his hometown, and should have a personal cheering section Sunday. He deserves one as the mobile anchor of the Kansas City front seven. Turner, one of three new offensive linemen starting for the Titans this season, might have to have help from the other newcomers – guards Andy Levitre and Chance Warmack.
– Titans CB Alterraun Verner: He has gone from user-friendly to flammable for opposing quarterbacks. Verner, likely to cover Dwayne Bowe with some safety help, has six takeaways in four games.
FAST FACTS: The teams are tied for the NFL lead with a plus-9 turnover margin. … A 5-0 start would be the Chiefs’ first since they began 2003 9-0.
PREDICTION: If the Titans can stuff Jamaal Charles, the game falls to QB Alex Smith, who has the best winning percentage in the NFL since 2011.
*Our pick: Chiefs 22-15