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Take Five: Tennessee

Posted Dec 25, 2010

Five things that can make the holiday extra nice for Chiefs fans

It’s the day after Christmas and Arrowhead is once again hosting meaningful December games, but the holiday weekend won’t be complete without a Chiefs victory.

Christmas came early in Kansas City this year with Chiefs fans receiving the gift of their squad leading the AFC West since early September.  A win on Sunday would equal the Chiefs combined win total from 2007-09 (10). It’s been a remarkable turnaround, but the work is far from done.

Kansas City has the “P-Word” on its mind. Let’s “Take Five” to see what it might take to get there.

1)      Protect the Edge

Chris Johnson is one of few players who can score from anywhere on the field and any point in the ballgame. It takes a special breed to continually break big plays against defenses that key every move on every down. Johnson is one of those players; he’s special.

Teams have stacked the box on Johnson all season, much like the Chiefs have seen throughout much of the year as well. Kansas City’s defense likely has specific scheme in store to limit Johnson on Sunday. With this guy, “limiting” is easier said than done.

Keeping Johnson from circling the edge is a great starting point in limiting one of the league’s most explosive play-makers.

2)      The Biggies

Tennessee can gauge a defense with big plays and their firepower only begins with Johnson. Don’t sleep on Kerry Collins and this Titans receiving core. Four different Titans have knocked out plays of 50 yards this season. In last week’s win over Houston, Collins hooked up on pass plays of 21, 27, 39 and 59 yards, respectively, while Johnson added a 42-yard run.

Fully healthy again, Kenny Britt is a difference maker for the Titans. Tennessee’s offense has enjoyed significantly more success in the 10 games that Britt has been in the lineup versus those games when they’ve been without. Without Britt, the Titans are 0-4 with a passing game that averages just over 160 yards per contest and a rushing attack that’s been held around 90 yards on average.

And then there’s Randy Moss. The former All-Pro might be playing a reserve role, and he’s only caught one pass in December, but the threat to go-off at any moment is still there. A look at the big-play tally might tell the tale when this one is all said and done.

3)      Painfully Cold

With a high temperature not expected to top the freezing mark, Arrowhead is going to carry some wintery bite on Sunday. The Chiefs can make it brutally cold for the Titans by delivering big hits and explosive plays from the start.

Though the Titans’ playoff hopes are still on life support, they’re realistically playing only for pride this weekend. The NFL’s toughest strength of schedule has gotten the best of Jeff Fisher’s squad this season and KC’s December temperature can do the same for a team out of contention. A few powerful punches from the get-go might just help the Titans dream of warmer off-season destinations.

At 6-0, the Chiefs are one of just three NFL teams with a perfect home record, joining only Atlanta and New England. Those teams are going to the playoffs. The Chiefs will join them if they can keep their home slate clean.

4)      Chiefs Football

The Titans’ game is much like the Raiders’ game: physical and ugly. When the two match effectively, it can mix beautifully for those franchises.

Tennessee hits hard and lets the flags fly. They’re among the league leaders in penalties against and, likewise, their opponents have seen more penalty yardage marched off than any team not playing Oakland.

There have been more success stories than failures for the 2010 Chiefs. One of those failures, however, was falling into the Raiders style of football while playing in the Black Hole. That can’t happen this weekend. This Sunday is an opportunity for the Chiefs to show that they’ve learned from some of their self-inflicted mistakes committed earlier in the season.

5)      Who’s Next?

A pair of reserves stepped up in opportune times last Sunday in St. Louis. Wallace Gilberry delivered a career-day with 3.0 sacks, which included a critical third-down takedown of Sam Bradford while the Chiefs trailed 6-0, and Jackie Battle converted a fourth-and-one that seemingly changed the game.

Who’s next?

The Chiefs need contribution from each of their 45 actives down the stretch.

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