Looking at how the Chargers' playoff hopes dwindled a little bit when the Rams weren't able to give the Chiefs their sixth loss, I took some time to do some much-needed research on the Chargers' chances of heading to the postseason.
Analyzing over and over the three teams that need to lose in order for the Chargers to get in, it seems that the best chance the Chargers have at getting into the "big dance" is for the Chargers to get some help through the Chiefs losing.
Here lies the problem. The Chiefs are undefeated at home.
The Chiefs' last two games of the season will be played out in Kansas City. They have the Tennessee Titans in Week 16 and the Oakland Raiders in Week 17.
I thought to myself, which team gives the Chargers the best chance to upset the Chiefs? It then dawned on me: The Titans will be the toughest challenge for the Chiefs to overcome. Here is why.
Heading into Week 8 against the Chargers, the Titans were a very tough 5-2 team—the same 5-2 team that beat the hell out of teams like the Eagles, Giants, Jaguars and Cowboys.
Since the Titans' 5-2 start, they've suffered through a 1-6 stretch.
I wondered, what happened to that team that was able to beat the likes of the Eagles and Giants handily?
The problem the Titans had wasn't on the defensive side of the ball, but rather on the offensive side. The Titans' offensive scoring was 38, 11, 29, 20, 34, 30 and 37 from Week 1 through Week 7.
The Titans' offensive scoring from Week 8 through Week 13 was 25, 17, 16, 0 and 6.
To understand why the amount of scoring by the Titans took a dive after Week 8, we have to take a look at how their offensive attack scheme works.
The Titans are a play-action team. They play grind-it-out, smash-mouth, in-your-face, home-run offensive football. The thing about offenses that run this type of football strategy is that you must have an elite RB, a game-managing QB and a deep play threat at WR.
When you look at when the Titans were successful, having all their weapons is what kept opposing teams at bay. The key to the Titans offense starts and ends with Chris Johnson.
He's amongst the elite RBs in the league. The entire offense revolves around him. Johnson creates opportunities for the other players to do better and sometimes vice versa.
The way Johnson helps other players on the team is to force opposing defenses to respect his ability as a home-run threat on any run. This opens up the deep passing game to a deep threat WR like Kenny Britt. With a competent game-managing QB behind center, this offense is what worked for the Titans early on in the season.
The problem came when the Titans suffered injuries to Kerry Collins and Britt.
The injury to Britt was the one injury that hurt the Titans the most. It is also interesting to see that during his absence the Titans were 0-5 from Week 8 through Week 13. The reason why Britt's injury was such a big deal is because he was the deep play threat.
Without Britt, defenses stacked the box constantly, making Chris Johnson a non-factor. This caused the Titans to go on a five-game losing streak after a 5-2 start.
If you look at how well the Titans played with Britt back, look no further than the past two games in Week 14 and Week 15.
Against the Colts, the Titans may have lost but they put up 28 points. The Colts defense respected Britt enough to cover him, and his presence helped Chris Johnson rack up over 179 total yards and one TD.
Against the Texans, the Titans put up 31 points.
The Texans tried to stack the box against the running game instead of what the Colts did, but still in the end, it opened up the game for Britt, as he had 128 receiving yards. Britt averaged 21.3 yards per catch in that game.
It should be also noted that Kerry Collins plays his best ball when he has a great running game (Chris Johnson) and a great deep play WR (Kenny Britt). Against the Colts, Collins had 244 passing yards, three TDs, and no INTs. Against the Texans, Collins had 237 passing yards, two TDs and one INT.
With all the information and analysis that I've poured out thus far, it's easy to see that the 6-8 Titans that are heading to play the Chiefs in this upcoming matchup in Kansas City look more like the 5-2 Titans that were moving strong with a full head of steam when they had all of their weapons.
So when I look back at that problem that the Chargers have in the Chiefs being undefeated at home, I find comfort in the fact that the Titans have all their weapons to beat them.
In addition, even though they're visiting Kansas City, that 5-2 team from earlier in the season had a 3-0 away record when they were at the top of their game with their three-headed monster on offense.
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