On one side of the tourney, we have the two highest-seeded teams, and on the other we have a surprise Titans team that has rode an old-school-smashmouth method to face off against the best arm in the game. I finally predicted some games right last week bringing my postseason record to 3-5. Let’s see if I can get to .500.
Tennessee Titans (11-7) @ Kansas City Chiefs (13-4) 12:05 PST on CBS
The tales of the two teams for this game could not be any different. One team jumped out to an early lead and held onto it in the last round. The other team destroyed their opponent’s early lead and kept crushing them from there. One team survived their backup filling in for their injured Quarterback. One team’s survival was their backup QB. With such a dichotomy matchup, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape.
If I’m speaking honestly, I have not given the 6th seeded Titans much of a chance in any games they have played this postseason and it’s time to be honest with myself: It is not working. The Titans are built really well for January football and Derrick Henry is the best player in the league at this exact moment in time. Sometimes it really is about who is hot, and when they heat up for some of the best postseason runs. The Titans also matchup really well against the Chiefs with Derrick Henry being the best rusher in the league, and the Chiefs being amongst the worst rushing defenses in the league. Tannehill has done his part in the Titans’ wins and has not been a turnover machine and played a factor in the time of possession game. The last time these teams faced in Tennessee, Tannehill threw for 2 TD and no interceptions on top of a great day for Derrick Henry and the Titans held on for a 35-32 win. The Titans’ defense also played extremely well against the Ravens despite what the yards might say. The Ravens reached 500+ total yards on offense but turned the ball over on downs 4 times, and threw two interceptions, and a strip-sack fumble. That’s one hell of a tenacious defense on the Titans part that we will probably see once again on Sunday for a bid to the biggest game of the year on the line.
Woke up feeling like it was time to Titan up ?
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) January 19, 2020
The Chiefs want to forget about a few of the past matchups they have had with the Titans. The most recent one being the loss in Tennessee earlier this year and the other relevant one being the 18 point lead they blew in KC during a Wildcard matchup. That was then, this is now. Mahomes was not at the helm for the loss to the Titans, and Mariota was the starter for the Titans. The times are a changing and boy do they change fast. Just ask the Houston Texans who were up 24-0 against the Chiefs before being blown out of the water. Sparked by a 28-point second quarter, the Chiefs went on to beat the Texans 51-31. The beginning of the game can be summed up to rust after a week of rest, but these Chiefs are now red-hot with all of their best players playing at their very best. Tyrann Mathieu has been one of the most unsung defenders all year and was exceptional in the win against the Texans playing sideline-to-sideline making plays all across the green in the run and the pass game and the Chiefs will need that this week against a diverse Titans attack. Home-field advantage cannot be stressed enough either in these playoffs because all it took was one TD when the Chiefs were down, and Arrowhead came to life and got rowdy.
Our shot at redemption. pic.twitter.com/0JDmDa4Q9j
— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) January 19, 2020
This is one of the hardest picks I have had in a long time and that’s for two reasons: Anytime Derrick Henry rushes for over 100 yards, the Titans do not lose. This is a fact. However, beating the Chiefs twice in one season just does not seem likely for any team and we saw how that played out for the Texans. Fortunately for the Titans, they aren’t the Texans.
Winner: Tennessee Titans
Green Bay Packers (14-3) @ San Francisco 49ers (14-3) 3:40 PST on FOX
The AFC Conference Championship is not the only rematch from the regular season this weekend. This NFC Championship hopes to avoid the blowout we witnessed in 12, as Aaron Rodgers returns to his home state to secure a legacy as one of the best to every play. While Rodgers tries to put a stamp on his story, the 49ers hope to just be opening their book on a potential dynasty.
The Packers did exactly what I thought they were going to do last week: Jump out to an early lead, let the Seahawks come back into the game, and then barely hold onto the win due to playing in front of the home crowd. The Seahawks are always a good litmus test for just how good this Packers team is, and the Pack showed some serious grit against the Hawks that have given a lot of very good teams this year a very hard time. The Packers ran the ball 30 times for 109 yards. The average YPC was pretty bad but the Packers stayed patient and that is what they will need to do against this very elite 49ers defense that is phenomenal at all three levels. The ‘it’ factor as always when talking about Green Bay belongs to Aaron Rodgers who played what isn’t considered an Aaron Rodgers-esque game last week (2 TD, no pics, 243 yards) but was clutch. On the last drive of the game, Rodgers threw a beautiful over-the-shoulder 3rd down conversion to Davante Adams (who was a monster with 160 yds and 2 TD), and another 3rd down conversion to Jimmy Graham with the game on the line. In a story that would sound all too familiar of giving the Seahawks the ball back with little time left, this Packers team finished the game. This clutch offense combined with the ferocious pass rush and great play calling by Mike Pettine, Green Bay hopes to close the decade the way they started: with a Super Bowl trip.
"These are the moments that you work for."
— Green Bay Packers (@packers) January 18, 2020
The NFC side of the bracket remained consistent with who was supposed to win and how they were supposed to win. After going into half leading 14-10, Sherman made a game-changing interception and the 49ers did not look back from there. The 49ers took care of business at home and Coach of the Year candidate Kyle Shanahan has this team rolling. Tevin Coleman went off for 105 yards and 2 TD, and the rest of the 49ers rushing game was clicking churning out 4+ yards per carry. When you run the ball as well as the Niners do, and you get to the Quarterback as much as the Niners do (6 sacks), then you find yourself in control of the game. If the Niners keep their hand on the wheel, they have a great route for a 6th Super Bowl ring.
If you want something in this league, you gotta go take it.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) January 18, 2020
The Packers just have not shown me enough against good teams to inspire confidence and the 49ers don’t give me any reason to think they will lose this game. If the Packers win, it will take everything they have and some which is possible, but much harder on the road.
Winner: San Francisco 49ers