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Titans at Chiefs AFC championship game preview: Will Tennessee pull off another stunner vs. Patrick Mahomes?

When: Sunday, Jan. 19, three:05 p.m. ET

The place: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas Town, Mo.

Channel: CBS

Line: Chiefs via 7 ½

Accidents: After his staff’s divisional-round victory against the Texans, coach Andy Reid said the Chiefs were “pretty healthy.” The biggest question, though, comes in the interior of their defensive line, with Chris Jones “day-to-day” with a calf injury. Reid held him out of the win over Houston, and Jones’ presence would be a huge boost to a line that will try to slow Titans running back Derrick Henry. Tight end Travis Kelce aggravated a nagging hamstring injury in the game, but he returned and had three touchdowns. After the game he said there would be “no doubt” he’d play in the AFC title game.

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For the Titans, there are two primary concerns. The first is linebacker Jayon Brown (shoulder), who suffered an injury twice in the the wild-card round win against the Patriots and missed the divisional-round victory against the Ravens. Wide receiver Adam Humphries also has missed the last six games due to an ankle injury.

THREE KEYS TO TEXANS VS. CHIEFS

1. When it rains: Kansas City’s barrage of points after spotting Houston 24 unanswered to start the game should put the Titans on notice. The Chiefs can score on anyone — and at will. Behind quarterback Patrick Mahomes running back Damien Williams and Kelce, Kansas City scored touchdowns on seven straight possessions, the most in a playoff game since the 1970 NFL-AFL merger. Tennessee needs to do whatever it can to prevent one of those Chiefs offensive explosions from happening. The key, for the Titans, might be up front. The interior of Tennessee’s defensive line controlled Baltimore’s in the upset. The Titans beat the Ravens off the snap and pushed center Patrick Mekari and left guard Bradley Bozeman backwards, creating havoc in the pocket and forcing Lamar Jackson to quicken his decisions. Tennessee even sacked the elusive Jackson four times. Against the Chiefs, the Titans need to replicate that pass rush without blitzing, as Mahomes was sacked just once by the Texans.

2. Short and sweet?  Mahomes didn’t even really need ample time to throw against the Texans. All five of his touchdown passes in the divisional round traveled fewer than 10 air yards. Part of that was because Houston allowed far too many explosive plays in the middle of the field that allowed the Chiefs to march into the red zone. And once they got inside the 20, they capitalized. Kansas City scored touchdowns on seven of their eight trips. This task is much easier said than done, but Tennessee might need to depend on keeping Kansas City from getting into the red zone altogether. The Titans ranked 31st in the regular season in red-zone defense, allowing opponents to score touchdowns 68.1% of the time. The only team that ranked lower than Tennessee: the Texans, at 71.4%.

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