Titans vs. Chiefs: What Are the Experts Saying About Tennessee?

Chad Minton@@chad_mintonCorrespondent ISeptember 4, 2014

Titans vs. Chiefs: What Are the Experts Saying About Tennessee?

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    The Ken Whisenhunt era will get underway for the Tennessee Titans with a Week 1 matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.

    These two teams put on a great show in the early portion of last season, but the Chiefs prevailed. The Titans entered a tailspin that they could never recover from.

    Who knows how much would've changed if the Titans could have managed to beat the Chiefs last season and start 4-1. 

    There are also a lot of familiar faces in this game for the Chiefs, most notably Dexter McCluster.

    With the opening kickoff quickly approaching, here's what the experts are saying about this very important AFC game.

Paul Kuharsky: Jake Locker Feels Good About Game Plan

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    Paul Kuharsky of ESPN.com said that Jake Locker is feeling confident with the game plan against the Chiefs:

    Game plan in hand, Locker feeling good: NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Jake Locker had a good preseason, but he c... http://t.co/4IJGvXeMnX #Titans

    — Paul Kuharsky (@PaulKuharskyNFL) September 3, 2014

    It was a moderately productive preseason for Locker, but the sample size was smaller than the Titans probably would've liked. The monsoon in the preseason opener against the Packers didn't help with that.

    This is easily a make-or-break season for Locker and the rest of his career as a starter in the NFL. It's good to see confidence coming from Locker as he's had to learn yet another new offense.

    Here's some of what he said in Kuharsky's piece: "That’s one of my favorite things now to get into, the mental part of what we are trying to accomplish with each play and how we can be successful within that against this defense.” 

    It would be fair to say that Locker's never had a better chance to flourish in this league than right now with Whisenhunt's leadership.

    Locker faces a stiff first challenge against a Chiefs defense that is very underrated and will put a lot of pressure on the quarterback. It will be vital for Locker to get off to a strong start and bounce back quickly if an early mistake is made in a loud environment.

Jim Wyatt: Titans' Super Bowl Odds and Win Total

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    The odds are officially out from Las Vegas, and what they expect from the Titans isn't too flattering. Here's what Jim Wyatt of The Tennessean posted on the Titans' odds: 

    Latest from Vegas: #Titans listed with 120-1 odds to win Super Bowl. Titans over-under win total: 7.

    — Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) September 4, 2014

    Those Super Bowl odds are near the bottom of the NFL, but the over/under win total of seven wins is very intriguing. An 8-8 season isn't out of the realm of possibility if Jake Locker can stay healthy and this defense can get adjusted quickly.

    When looking over the schedule, I see six games with the Titans as the favorites. They need to win at least five of these:

    1. at home vs. Cleveland
    2. at home vs. Jacksonville
    3. at home vs. Houston
    4. at home vs. New York Jets
    5. at home vs. Dallas
    6. on the road vs. Jacksonville

    I also see another four games that are toss-ups. Splitting these four games would be ideal to reach eight wins:

    1. on the road vs. Houston
    2. at home vs. New York Giants
    3. at home vs. Pittsburgh
    4. on the road vs. Washington

    The Titans are pretty big underdogs in the other six games on the schedule. However, if the Titans can win five of the six games they're favored in and just split the toss-up games, then that would get them to seven wins. It's very manageable for them to pull off an upset and get to 8-8. That would be a respectable finish to Ken Whisenhunt's first season.

    As for the Super Bowl odds, I wouldn't come near it. The AFC is just too top heavy with New England and Denver at the top of the mountain.

Jimmy Morris: Titans Name Their Team Captains

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    There weren't any major surprises in the five players named as team captains for the Titans, including Jake Locker. The others were Nate Washington, Jurrell Casey, Wesley Woodyard and George Wilson.

    All of these guys are known as being great leaders inside the locker room, per Jimmy Morris of SB Nation's Music City Miracles.

    The only name I was moderately surprised to not see on there was Bernard Pollard. He always seems to be the vocal leader on defense during the game, so seeing him left off for Wilson was interesting.

    Out of this bunch, look for Casey to have the best chance at getting Pro Bowl honors.

    With that said, these five guys are very deserving of being team captains and will play major roles in getting the Titans back to the playoffs.

Joel Thorman: Chiefs Injury Report Looks Good

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    Joel Thorman of SB Nation's Arrowhead Pride writes that the injury report for the Chiefs looks great heading into the season opener with the Titans: "Good news on the Kansas City Chiefs injury front. As in there aren't any. At least not any notable ones the Chiefs released on their first injury report of the 2014 season."

    The Titans have still gotten somewhat lucky that the Chiefs will be without Dwayne Bowe due to suspension. That makes this Chiefs receiving corps a pedestrian one that the Titans should be able to contain. If the Titans defense gives up big numbers in the passing game, then it could be a very long season for the unit.

    However, Jamaal Charles is still a monster in all-purpose yards. He'll be able to take over this game if the Titans don't show improvement from their preseason performance. If they contain Charles, then the Titans should be able to keep the score pretty low in a hostile environment. 

Gordon McGuinness: Titans Will Win the AFC South

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    Yes, you read that title correctly. The Titans have been predicted by at least one person to win the AFC South. Gordon McGuinness of Pro Football Focus makes that prediction.

    Here is some of his reasoning behind that bold prediction: "When healthy, Jake Locker hasn’t looked terrible, and I think he has some really nice weapons to work with this year."

    He also points to how the Titans will use Dexter McCluster in this new offense. We haven't seen any signs in the preseason of how he might be used.

    If there's a reason to have faith in the Titans making a run for a division crown, it's definitely because of their receiving corps. It's young but ultratalented. Justin Hunter could be primed for a breakout year, and Kendall Wright will continue to get better as a reliable slot receiver.

    My big reservation that keeps me from pushing the Titans ahead of the Colts in the division is if this transition to a 3-4 defense is going to go as smooth as everyone hopes for. It's still very much a work in progress judging by four preseason games.

    The Titans will win some shootouts this season, and 9-7 is the most I can see this team managing. That won't be enough to overtake the Colts, whom I see as a dark-horse candidate to challenge the Broncos and Patriots.