Has Marcus Mariota taken the next step? What makes him good?
MCM: Mariota has taken the next step. He threw five interceptions in the first four games of the season but has only thrown three since. He has clearly gotten more comfortable in the offense and is making better decisions.
What makes him so good is how accurate he is with the football. He still hasn't thrown an interception in the red zone in his career. Mariota has also really improved with his decision making on when to run and when to just throw the ball away. That has helped him cut down on the fumble problems he had early in the season.
Who has slowed down the Titans run game? What did they do?
MCM: The Titans have only rushed for less than 120 yards in three games this season- Week 1 vs. the Vikings, Week 9 vs. the Chargers and Week 11 against the Colts. In two of those games, Chargers and Colts, it was a result of game script. The Titans fell behind early and had to throw to try and catch up. In Week 1 the offense just wasn't in sync yet.
The Titans offensive line has been so good this year that the only way to slow down the run game is to stack the box. Teams haven't been as willing to do that lately because of how good Mariota has been playing. The Titans finally have an offense that you have to pick your poison against. We haven't had this feeling since the early 2000s.
The Chiefs create a lot of turnovers. How are the Titans at protecting the ball?
MCM: They were terrible at protecting the ball in the first month of the season. They had eight turnovers in the first four games. They have only turned the ball over five times since with three of those happening in the disaster that was the Chargers game. As I said above, most of that is a result of Mariota learning when to get rid of the football. Hopefully that trend continues this week.
Where do the Titans excel on defense? Where do they struggle?
MCM: The Titans don't really excel anywhere on defense. Their numbers against the run are good, but that is due in large part to the fact that they cannot stop anyone from throwing. Most teams just take the path of least resistance and throw the entire game and watch the yards pile up.
What's your prediction?
MCM: Chiefs 17 Titans 13