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Chiefs have sizable edge over Titans in playoff experience, if it even matters

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Having no playoff experience didn't matter to Alex Smith in his first career postseason game. Smith threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns in leading the San Francisco 49ers to a win against the New Orleans Saints after the 2011 season.

Now with the Kansas City Chiefs, Smith still feels better about Saturday's wild-card round playoff game (4:20 p.m. ET, ESPN) against the Tennessee Titans for having played in six such games.

"Having been there can only help you, good and bad, all those experiences having been at this stage before," Smith said. "I think you carry those with you. They don't make or break anything, but they only contribute.

"Just having been there [makes it] a little more comforting just going about your business, comfort with the situation. You know what it's like. You've been there before."

If playoff experience counts for anything, the Chiefs have a solid edge over the Titans. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Chiefs have 39 players who have been part of a postseason game, the Titans 18. Those 39 Chiefs have played in 110 playoff games while the 18 Titans have been in 81.

That edge extends to the respective head coaches. The Chiefs' Andy Reid has coached in 23 postseason games, including four with Kansas City. This is the first such game for the Titans' Mike Mularkey.

Mularkey said he doesn't think experience matters in playoff situations and even Reid indicated he wasn't sure about it.

"I don't know how to measure that," he said. "I guess since you've been there, you kind of know what to expect. The games are a little faster. Maybe experience helps you with that as a player and coach. But you know it's good competition once you get to this level. It's good competition all the way through and you have to make sure you play well.

"You know you're going to get their best shot. They understand that it's single elimination, the urgency that's involved with every practice play, every play during the game -- they all matter. We're lucky to have guys that kind of get that."

The Chiefs come by that honestly because many have the experience. Even one who doesn't have NFL playoff experience, linebacker Reggie Ragland, has experience in the College Football Playoff while playing at Alabama.

"The speed's going to change and guys are going to be hungry," Ragland said of the advice he has received from experienced teammates. "But I'm used to this. Being with Coach [Nick] Saban at Alabama, every [game] is a big game for us.

"For me, this is my first one. I'm real excited to get the chance to try to get to the Super Bowl."

Though Smith has six games of playoff experience plus three as a backup for the 49ers, his Titans counterpart, Marcus Mariota, has none. That gives the Chiefs a level of comfort.

"I think for that position [playoff experience] does help," Reid said. "Alex has been there and done well there. ... It sure doesn't hurt for him to have been there and done well."

But, as Smith showed in his first playoff game for the 49ers, experience isn't always critical.

"Everybody is amped up," Smith said. "The season is on the line because it's win or go home. All of that adds to the intensity a lot of times.

"It's still football, at the end of the day."