The Kansas City Chiefs will host the surprising Tennessee Titans on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, with the winner advancing to play in the Super Bowl.
Nobody expected the Titans to be here, one win away from a Super Bowl. It has been a rollercoaster season that didn’t even see them clinch a playoff spot until the final week of the season.
Tennessee switched starting quarterbacks in Week 7 and won only nine games. But the Titans went into Foxborough and knocked off the Patriots, then went into Baltimore and completely stymied the top-seeded Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Can they take down Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City now?
Kansas City has not made the Super Bowl in several decades, despite all of the greatness that has come through the franchise. The Alex Smith era never got past this game, and in year two of Mahomes as the starter, the Chiefs hope to get into the big dance this year.
Since he came back from his ankle injury, Mahomes has been as exceptional as he was during his 2018 MVP campaign, and he is one home win away from making it to the Super Bowl. This game is going to be a thriller.
Kansas City is a seven-point favorite, with the over/under set at 53 points.
Looking For One More
Three years ago, Ryan Tannehill played well enough to lift the Miami Dolphins to the postseason, but he was hurt prior to the Wild Card round, and so Matt Moore quarterbacked them in their defeat. Tannehill missed all of the next season with that same injury, and he came back a different QB, and the team struggled.
Now in Tennessee, he has gone 9-3 since being promoted to the starter and is showing what could have been for Miami had he not gotten hurt in that trip to the postseason. Derrick Henry is running the ball like a man possessed, with every carry producing positive yards. He is becoming a man that is almost harder to stop than prime Marshawn Lynch.
The Titans’ pass rush is going to ultimately decide if they can win this one. We know their offense can hold its own, but can they keep Mahomes from slinging the ball as he is capable of? That’s the only way for Tennessee to advance.
One Step Further
In just year two as a starter in this league, Mahomes already has an MVP award. He has tremendous commercial appeal. And he is in his second AFC Championship Game, with Tom Brady not expected to walk through that door (as a player). He has his opportunity in front of the home fans to deliver and bring the team to the Super Bowl.
Despite an extremely lackadaisical run game and a questionable defense, here the Chiefs are. They erased a 24-0 deficit against the Texans to win that game 51-31 last week, showing sheer domination for the last two-plus quarters.
Mahomes will likely be passing the ball from the opening possession. The Chiefs really won’t have much of a chance to establish the run.
Titans Pull Another Surprise
A tight game will see Henry run out the clock for the Titans at the end. Mike Vrabel’s team will do it again, pulling out yet another road upset to become AFC Champions. Pick the Titans.
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