Previously, I mentioned just how exciting these playoffs have been after an eventful wild card weekend. Well, this trend only continued in a divisional weekend full of surprises.
The #1 seed in the playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens, ran into much more trouble on Saturday; or in other words, they ran into Derrick Henry. The Tennessee Titans, entering the game as +9.5 underdogs, marched into M&T Bank Stadium and locked down likely MVP Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Henry followed up his historic game against New England with another otherworldly performance, accounting for 195 yards rushing and a rare passing touchdown off a trick play to Corey Davis (yes, you read that right). At Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday, all hope looked lost for the Kansas City Chiefs, down 24-0 to the Houston Texans in the second quarter. However, reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes rallied the team on the sideline and led a historic playoff comeback, throwing for five touchdowns and scoring 41 unanswered points in a 51-31 Chiefs win.
Now, we got a highly anticipated conference championship that no one saw coming. I don’t know about you, but I’m extremely excited. So, enough of the past and onto the future. Here’s how I see today’s AFC Championship playing out.
This article will be predicting the AFC Championship Game. To see my thoughts and prediction on the NFC Championship Game, click here.
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs (-7): Sun, 1/19, 3:05 PM
These teams met earlier in the year when the Titans came back down 10-0 and barely beat Kansas City 35-32 with a last-second touchdown in Patrick Mahomes’ first game back from injury. This time around, there’s a much different atmosphere around the game, but I still have no doubt in mind this game will be a high scoring affair.
Both defenses have been average this year, but each offense has been deadly at putting up points on the board. On the Titans’ side, their offense revolves around star running back Derrick Henry who, just in case you didn’t know, is a whopping 6’3’’ and 238 pounds. Behind a talented offensive line, Henry has rushed for 588 yards in his last three games; all of which resulted in wins. Henry’s production on the offense has shown an evident correlation to the Titans’ success; the Titans are 8-0 this season when Henry rushes for more than 100 yards. In their week 10 matchup against the Chiefs, Henry tore up the defense for 188 yards and two touchdowns. Although quarterback Ryan Tannehill has shown much improvement and rookie receiver A.J. Brown has been a matchup problem all year, Henry is going to have to carry the Titans once again if Tennessee wants a trip to the Super Bowl.
As for Kansas City, Patrick Mahomes leads one of the NFL’s most dangerous offenses (when healthy) into Arrowhead today. With his incredible five-touchdown performance last week, Mahomes further proved why he’s still one of the top quarterbacks in this league despite playing injured for a portion of the season. Mahomes doesn’t do it alone though; receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce, are some of the best at what they do: getting open and racking up yards after the catch. Hill and Kelce combined for 232 receiving yards last time they played the Titans, so they’ll need to repeat or do better for the Chiefs to put points on the board. Tennessee will have to focus on their secondary play to limit Mahomes’ arm, so Kansas City will have to bring their running game to play today. Running back Damien Williams hasn’t been really effective this season, only tallying two games with 100+ rushing yards. Williams will have to step up today as a runner and a blocker for the Chiefs. If he isn’t going to get it done on the ground, he’ll have to block his ass off for Mahomes to work his magic.
Personally, I hope whoever wins this game wins the Super Bowl, so I don’t have any favorite going into the contest. That being said, I’m favoring the Chiefs today. Tennessee has been amazing this postseason against star quarterbacks like Tom Brady and Lamar Jackson, but I think Mahomes and the Chiefs offense will be too much to handle. Keep an eye out for receiver Sammy Watkins to have a huge game today as well as, of course, Patrick Mahomes. Williams will be getting the ball in the endzone, so expect two or three rushing touchdowns from him. As for Derrick Henry, I believe his unbelievable streak ends today. He’ll get into the endzone a couple of times, but will be limited to less than 100 yards rushing.