Last year, the Titans handed the Chiefs a 27-3 defeat in Nashville that left Mahomes and company with a 3-4 record.
Although the Chiefs responded to that loss by going on an eight-match winning streak, which secured them a place in the playoffs, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid made sure that the players revisited the loss.
“You watch that on film and see how you played, it wasn’t just them beating us. We played bad and they just put it down on us at the end of the day,” Mahomes said.
“We have to understand they’re going to be ready to go.”
The Titans will certainly be fired up. While last season’s win may have eased the pain, they still have memories of a 35-24 loss to the Chiefs in the 2019 AFC Championship game.
Mahomes was at his nimble-footed best in that victory, throwing three touchdowns, but he was largely nullified by the Titans last season with no touchdowns and a turnover.
The lesson, then, for the Titans is perfectly clear — to beat the Chiefs, they must stop Mahomes and the Chiefs’ passing game.
The Titans defense has been strong in their five-match winning run after an 0-2 start to the season, allowing just 15.2 points per game.
In Sunday’s 17-10 win over Houston, the Titans gave up just 161 years of total offense — their best defensive performance since 2010.
But the Chiefs offense is different and as head coach Mike Vrabel acknowledged this week, Mahomes has plenty to work with.
“I think it starts with Patrick and his ability to not only throw from in the pocket but improvise and the understanding he has with (tight end Travis) Kelce and (wide receiver Mecole) Hardman,” Vrabel said.
“It looks like JuJu (Smith-Schuster) is starting to be a focal point, and (Marquez Valdes-Scantling). They play three backs who can all catch the ball. They can put a lot of pressure on you,” he added.
Reid is well aware that Tennessee’s biggest threat comes from the rush, in particular running back Derrick Henry, who has run for at least 100 yeards in each of the Titans’ past four games.
Trying to limit Henry
Reid says there is no plan that can fully stop Henry, who has 755 yards rushing and seven rushing touchdowns so far this season, but he hopes the Chiefs can at least limit his explosiveness.
“There are going to be things that you are goin to try to do to stop him, and I think the whole NFL has tried that somewhere,” Reid said.
“So, he’s a great player and you’re not going to stop him on every play, you just want to get the number (of stops) up where it’s a reasonable amount of stops.”
The Titans are waiting on quarterback Ryan Tannehill, who sat out last week against the Texans with an ankle injury. Rookie Malik Willis, who deputized last week, is on stand-by.
Week nine in the NFL also sees two other top teams in the AFC face-off with the New York Jets hosting the Buffalo Bills.
Sunday’s other games include the Los Angeles Chargers at Atlanta, Miami at Chicago, Carolina at Cincinnati, Green Bay at Detroit, Las Vegas at Jacksonville, Indianapolis at New England, Minnesota at Washington, Seattle at Arizona and the Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Bay. Baltimore will visit New Orleans on Monday.
More interesting stories related to American Football and the NFL can be found here.