Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans will play the AFC Championship on Sunday, January 19, 2020. Photo credit: Peter Aiken / Getty Images
The Arrowhead Stadium will be the scene of a clash that many didn’t expect, when the Tennessee Titans (9-7) travel to Missouri to face the Kansas City Chiefs (12-4) this Sunday, in a battle for the top spot of the AFC. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs stunned the Huston Texans in their last playoff divisional round, trailing from a 21-0 in the first quarter, to an unbelievable comeback ending in a 51-31 victory. No less surprising was the huge Tennessee Titan’s upset over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, where the No. 6 seed Titans took down the No. 1 Ravens with a 28-12 win over Lamar Jackson and crew at Baltimore.
So if one thing is for sure in this NFL 2020 Post Season, is that nothing is sure. So again, who’s going to be the AFC Champion, and clinch a ticket to Superbowl LIV?
The Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs are now considered #1 favorites to win the Superbowl (+115 in sportsbooks), but they still need to beat the hungry Titans that are coming on the back of an even stronger contender, the Baltimore Ravens. This time around, Kansas can’t afford to have the same game start they had against the Texans, because it’s going to be much harder to climb back from such a slippery slope against Tennessee. Not only is the Titans’ defense better, but they also have a powerful attack with Running Back Derick Henry who established a new record, being the first RB finishing 3 consecutive games with more than 180 yards, and most likely the Titans will not try to make a play on a 4th, and 1st on their own 31 yardline as the Texans did.
Talking about records, Patrick Mahomes became the first Quarterback throwing 4 touchdown passes in the same quarter, and Travis Kelce also got a new record becoming the first Tight End with 3 touchdowns on air in the same quarter, all that in the Chiefs’ 51-31 victory against the Texans. Mahomes and Kelce have a secure connection that is almost unstoppable, producing 7 victories in a row for the Kansas City Chiefs, extending into the post season.
QB Patrick Mahomes and TE Travis Kelce made a record game against Texans on the Divisional round. Photo credit: Jamie Squire / Getty Images
Still, Kansas needs to improve their rushing defense very quickly as both New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens had better rushing stats, and they couldn’t stop Running Back Derick Henry. The Chiefs allowed 4.9 yards per rushing attempt and 128.2 total rushing yards per game, so maybe they can’t stop the Tennessee’s rushing attack. But maybe, or let’s even say probably, the solution lies in Patrick Mahomes’ hands.
The Tennessee Titans
Delivering one of the biggest playoff upsets of this season, and probably of the league’s history, the Titans will travel to Missouri with nothing to lose and everything to win, given they are once more considered underdogs. They were also underdogs against the Ravens, but they planned and executed an almost perfect match, being disciplined all over the field, but especially with their defense.
This discipline allowed the Titans to intercept 2 throws of Raven’s star Quarterback Lamar Jackson and to recover a fumble, also snatched from Jackson’s hands. Tennessee’s defense had some flaws in the regular season, allowing 25.1 points per game and 223.9 yards in the air per game. In the playoffs, the Titans allowed so far 277 yards per game. However, it turns out that they allow only 12.5 points per game in the playoffs. So where it matters most, which is denying points from their opponent, they are actually doing well.
Derick Henry having a remarkable performance con the Divisional round against Ravens. Photo credit: Rob Carr / Getty Images
On the offensive side, the Titans proved not only to be capable of running the football with Running Back Derick Henry but also Ryan Tannehill did a great job with 2 touchdown passes, one of them for 45 yards to Wide Receiver Kalif Raymond, setting the score to 14-0! The Titans are also capable of making different and unexpected plays like the touchdown pass that was thrown by Derick Henry to Wide Receiver Corey Davis. So when looking at it, Tennessee has many tricks in the bag that will allow them to beat Kansas if things work well.
So Who Will Get Their Ticket to Superbowl LIV?
Can the Chiefs stop Derick Henry? This is the first question they will need to resolve on the field, and control Henry in order to win the game. Henry overtook Terrel Davis (former Denver Broncos running back) as the player with most rushing yards in the NFL’s Superbowl era in his first four playoff games, with 561 yards. The question for the Titans is if they can stop Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyrek Hill & co. The answer for both questions, which will determinate the winner, relies not on which team pulls more tricks out of the bag, as both will. It will be determined by which side makes fewer mistakes.
Final Score: Chiefs to win 31-28 but doesn’t cover the spread
Spread: Titans +7.5 (56%) / 49ers -7.5 (44%)
O/U: 51.5 Over (59%) / Under (41%)