While the Kansas City Chiefs try to remain undefeated, the Tennessee Titans hope an injury to their starting quarterback won’t derail the team’s strong start.
The Chiefs look to go 5-0 for the first time in 10 years Sunday when they visit a Titans team trying for its first three-game winning streak in two seasons.
After enduring the overall frustration of a franchise-worst 2-14 season in 2012, Kansas City is focused only on trying to maintain its best start since going 9-0 in 2003.
“We try not to even think about last year,” receiver Dwayne Bowe said. “Every day we go day by day, and right now we’re 4-0 and the target is on our back, and we have to keep pushing.”
There are plenty of reasons the Chiefs should look only forward. A win Sunday would make Kansas City the first team to win its first five games the season after winning two or fewer contests.
“The team is totally in, the coaches, the players,” Bowe said. “It’s all a family right now. We’re a family organization. On all three sides of the ball we’re doing good.”
Kansas City has scored 26 or more points in three of four contests after doing so twice in 2012.
Despite throwing his first two interceptions of the season, Alex Smith threw three of his seven touchdowns in last Sunday’s 31-7 rout of the New York Giants. With a victory this weekend, Smith would join Mike Livingston as the only quarterbacks to win their first five starts with the Chiefs.
Running back Jamaal Charles has overcome a quad injury and some recent foot problems to rank third in the NFL in yards from scrimmage with 125.5 per game.
“He wants the ball, which you appreciate,” coach Andy Reid said. “I really appreciated it after I saw his feet and the blisters on them (last Sunday). The kid is a tough kid. He likes to play.”
Reid, however, is uncertain if No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher will be healthy enough to take the field at right tackle after suffering a concussion against the Giants.
Defensively, the Chiefs allow a league-best 10.3 points per contest and have recorded an NFL-high 18 sacks.
Dustin Colquitt leads the league with 15 punts inside the opponents’ 20-yard line, and should be ready after he sprained his knee last weekend.
“We come out here and try to perfect our craft every single day and every practice,” tight end Sean McGrath told the Chiefs’ official website. “We just want to be as prepared as we can to face an opponent the next week.”
Kansas City expects to face a serious challenge in Nashville, where the Titans (3-1) have won four in a row and will try to win three straight overall for the first time since Sept. 18-Oct. 2, 2011.
Tennessee will attempt to do so without quarterback Jake Locker, who, according to coach Mike Munchak, will miss a “few weeks” after suffering a sprained hip in the third quarter of last Sunday’s 38-13 win over the New York Jets.
The third-year signal-caller, who missed five games with a shoulder injury during Tennessee’s 6-10 season of 2012, completed 62.2 percent of his passes, threw six touchdowns and no interceptions and posted the AFC’s third-best passer rating of 99.0 though four games.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who posted three straight 3,000-yard seasons in Buffalo, gets the start after he went 3 of 8 for 108 yards and a TD against the Jets.
“I was brought here for a reason, and the reason I was brought here was to help Jake out and be ready for a situation like this if it came up,” said Fitzpatrick, who has thrown eight touchdowns and two picks while going 4-1 against the Chiefs.
He could have Kenny Britt back in the mix after the receiver missed last Sunday’s contest with a rib injury.
With Fitzpatrick at the helm, the Titans have a chance to become the first team in the Super Bowl era to go the first five games of a season without committing a turnover. Tennessee and Kansas City are tied for the NFL lead in turnover differential at plus-9.
“It’s discipline by the team,” Munchak told the Titans’ official website. “It’s important to them. We work on it every day. Hopefully, it continues.”
A Tennessee defense that is allowing 17.2 points per game (seventh in the league) and has recorded 14 sacks hopes for a better effort than the last time these teams met.
Bowe had 153 receiving yards and a TD and Charles amassed 117 total yards and scored twice in Kansas City’s 34-14 home win over the Titans in 2010.
Britt had four receptions for 89 yards and a touchdown in that contest.