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Even in the cold winter air of Missouri, Patrick Mahomes’ passing attack in Arrowhead will be too much for the Tennessee Titans’ defense and the Kansas City Chiefs will win by almost a touchdown and earn a spot in the next Super Bowl, a position they felt got ‘stolen’ from them last postseason in overtime.
My prediction for the final score is Chiefs 36, Titans 30.
What: Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs
When: Sunday, January 19 at 3:05 pm ET
Where: Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri
How (TV): CBS
Titans +7.5, Chiefs -7.5
The latest odds for the AFC Championship game between the Titans and Chiefs are provided by DraftKings Sportsbook, and 888Sport NJ.
The upcoming AFC Championship Game features two teams that weren’t exactly supposed to be there – Ryan Tannehill’s up and down Tennessee Titans, who had been counted out before the playoffs even started and Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs, who were getting completely pummeled by the Houston Texans by the time the first quarter of their Divisional round matchup was over last week.
But the Titans and the powerful rushing attack of the league’s most productive running back, Derrick Henry, came through (again) and ended the Baltimore Ravens’ run while the mind-blowing passing attack of Patrick Mahomes and his speedy targets completely dominated the second half as Kansas City found a way to totally shut down Houston.
Tennessee’s run game looks unstoppable while Kansas City looks undeniably unbeatable through the air, so we take a quick side-by-side look at these two teams to better see how they matchup as they face off in this ‘winner goes to the Super Bowl’ AFC Championship showdown.
To get to this game, the Tennessee Titans had to first beat the formerly unbeatable New England Patriots in the Wild Card round.Then they had to take care of the team some thought were a Super Bowl shoe-in, the Baltimore Ravens, and they mostly did it with an intense ground attack and a relentless pass rush.
Derrick “King” Henry has dominated the gridiron all season, and he is proving to be an unstoppable mass in the postseason, as well, running for 182 yards and a touchdown in the Wild Card game and then 195 total yards last week.
The Titans don’t have the strongest defense in the league (ranked 21st), but when your offense tends to dominate the time of possession with its relentless ground attack, Tennessee’s opponents don’t get much time on the field to properly respond.
Tough to not count a team out when they are down by three touchdowns at the end of the first quarter like the Kansas City Chiefs were against the Houston Texans during the Divisional Playoff round, but by the end of the first half, quarterback Patrick Mahomes had crushed all doubts about his team as he brought them right back into the game, and then some.
The Chiefs ended up beating the Texans by a score of 51-31, their defense holding Houston to just a single touchdown in the second half and keeping them completely off the scoreboard in the third quarter while Mahomes and company began their easy march up and down the field.
Where Kansas City could be at a disadvantage in this one is against the Titans’ incredible Derrick Henry – that’s because the Chiefs defense has had trouble all season stopping the run, and that could prove to be their downfall against the league’s best rusher.
These two AFC rivals have met 53 total times (including 3 postseason games), with Tennessee winning 24 of those times and Kansas City winning the other 29 games.
The last time these two teams played each other was earlier in this regular season when in November the Chiefs traveled to Nashville only to get beaten by the Titans by a close score of 35-32.
The winner of this game will face the winner of the NFC Championship game, either the Green Bay Packers or the San Francisco 49ers, on Sunday, February 2 in Super Bowl LIV (54) at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The loser, of course, goes home.
Who’s favored to win this Titans-Chiefs matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Titans and the Chiefs next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The Tennessee Titans have gone all-in on their run game, with Derrick Henry, the league’s regular-season rushing leader (303 carries for 1,540 yards and 16 touchdowns) taking the bulk of the carries and quarterback Ryan Tannehill adding a few yards here and there on the ground, as well.
Once Tannehill started under center in Week 6, the Titans seemed to come alive offensively, his accurate and cautious arm leading to a 70.3 completion percentage with only 6 interceptions on the regular season.
For a team that hasn’t had a rest since their Week 11 bye, the Tennessee Titans are relatively healthy, although their passing attack this Sunday may be affected by injury, with wide receivers Cody Hollister (ankle) and Adam Humphries (ankle) both listed as questionable.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is why the Kansas City Chiefs have such a highly ranked offense – his regular-season passing numbers (319 completions for 4,000+ yards and 26 touchdowns with 5 interceptions) are top-10, and that’s despite missing two games with a dislocated knee cap.
Plenty of credit for that goes to his target – especially lightning-quick receiver Tyreek Hill and his dangerous counterpart Sammy Watkins, plus there’s tight end Travis Kelce, whose soft-hands and powerful after-the-catch running have frustrated many a defense.
With sixteen of their players out for the season due to injury, the Chiefs are definitely in a next-man-up scenario for the playoffs, but right now (most likely thanks to their first-round bye) no offensive players are listed as questionable for Sunday’s matchup.
The Kansas City Chiefs have the advantage through the air while the Tennessee Titans have the advantage on the ground, so depending on how each team’s defense responds, either could earn the overall offensive advantage by the end of the game.
The Tennessee Titans struggle a bit against the pass (bad news in this matchup) and they have allowed opponents to score almost 21 points per game, with 14 interceptions and 43 total sacks.
One Titans’ player that Mahomes had better keep in his peripheral vision is free safety Kevin Byard, who has 5 interceptions in the regular season (T-4th most in the league) and 14 passes defended along with 84 total tackles.
The Titans are playing without two of their key cornerbacks, with Malcolm Butler (wrist) and Chris Milton (undisclosed) both on injured reserve, and they may also have to make do without linebacker Jayon Brown, who is currently listed as questionable with a shoulder injury.
Kansas City keeps their opponents to just under 20 points per game (not bad when your offense averages over 28 points per game), with 16 interceptions and 45 total sacks during the regular season.
Kansas City Chiefs defensive ends Chris Jones and Frank Clark are extremely dangerous, especially to the quarterbacks they’re playing against, with 17 total sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 34 quarterback hits between the two.
The Chiefs’ defense has been pretty banged up this season, and they may have to play on Sunday without a couple of their key playmakers, with cornerback Morris Claiborne (shoulder) and defensive tackle Chris Jones (calf) both listed as questionable for this one.
The Kansas City Chiefs will have the defensive advantage in this one unless Derrick Henry does what he has been doing all season and runs right over them.
The Tennessee Titans have found most of their success through their rushing attack, mainly running back Derrick Henry, best rusher in the league, and they happen to be facing a Kansas City Chiefs team that is ranked 26th against the run, so it doesn’t take a football genius to realize that’s the key to victory for Tennessee.
Ryan Tannehill doesn’t have to be a huge factor here (he completed just 7-of-14 for 88 yards and 2 touchdowns in last week’s win), as long as he continues to throw short, accurate passes quickly to keep the defense from stacking the box every time against Henry, although a repeat of Tannehill’s 45-yard touchdown pass to Kalif Raymond would be helpful.
If the same Titans’ defense that stepped up against the Ravens last week and posted four sacks and two interceptions shows up at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday and makes similarly Mahomes uncomfortable, this underdog Titans team has a shot at victory.
This game is totally in the hands of quarterback Patrick Mahomes – as he goes, so go the Kansas City Chiefs – so the key to a win for them is getting him the ball as often as possible so he can snag an early lead with his arm.
A big factor in a KC win will be whether tight end Travis Kelce can have another big game like he did last week against Houston when he caught ten passes for 134 yards and 3 touchdowns, his first multi-touchdown game of the season.
The Chiefs will win this game if their defense can do something about Derrick Henry – they obviously can’t stop the man (few teams have this season), but they must figure out a way to slow him down and prevent him from making the huge breakaway runs that tend to crush the souls of his opponents.
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Mike Lukas is a retired standup comedian turned freelance writer now living in Dallas, Texas, originally from Cleveland, Ohio. His love for the game of football and all things Cleveland Browns turned Mike into a pro blogger years ago. Now Mike enjoys writing about all thirty-two NFL teams, hoping to help football gamblers gain a slight edge in their pursuit of the perfect wager. Email: [email protected]More info on Mike Lukas
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