And then there were two. Two teams left trying to fight for the right to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl.
These two will square off for the second this season, as the Titans defeated the Chiefs 35-32 in week 10. The last time these two met in the playoffs, Tennessee defeated Kansas City in the Wild Card round in 2017.
Titans looking for another upset
When Ryan Tannehill took over for Marcus Mariota, the Titans were 2-4 and were sinking fast. Since then, Tannehill has led the Titans to a 9-3 record including two playoff upsets against the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens. Tannehill will be eager to go up against a Kansas City defense that allowed 348 yards in their opening playoff game against the Houston Texans.
A.J. Brown, Corey Davis, and the rest of the Titans playmakers will be looking to make big plays as they have this postseason. The Chiefs secondary will have their hands full trying to stop the offense. During the regular season, Brown is averaging 65.7 yards per game while Davis averaged 40.1 yards.
The Titans superman has definitely been Derrick Henry. This postseason, Henry is averaging 188.5 yards per game and 5.9 yards per carry. Henry became the first running back in NFL history to have at least 175 yards in back-to-back playoff games. The Titans running back Henry has three catches for 29-yards and a touchdown. He even threw a touchdown pass against the Ravens. The Titians are hoping that Henry will continue his hot streak that he has been on.
Chiefs looking for revenge
Many would not have predicted how the game started last Sunday for the Chiefs. Houston jumped to an early 24-0 lead against Kansas City, thus blowing up social media and almost breaking the internet. Kansas City outscored Houston 51-7 over the final 40 minuets of the game, setting up the rematch against the Titans in the AFC Championship game.
Patrick Mahomes is the unstoppable force that the Titans will have to contain. Mahomes would throw four straight touchdowns to take the lead from the Texans en route to the Chiefs’ victory. In their first meeting, Mahomes threw three touchdowns and for 446 yards. Tennessee allowed 209 passing yards to the Patriots and 345 passing yards to the Ravens. Tennessee also forced five turnovers over the past two games as well. Mahomes will have to be at his best if they want to win.
Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce were big factors in the first meeting. Hill caught 11 passes for 157-yards and a touchdown while Kelce caught seven passes for 75-yards and a touchdown. Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson, and Tramaine Brock Sr. will have their hand full trying to stop the Chiefs playmakers.
Jayron Brown| LB| Shoulder| Questionable
Logan Ryan| CB| Illness| Questionable
Rashaan Evens| LB| Foot| Questionable
Adam Humphries| WR| Ankle| Questionable
Adoree’ Jackson| CB| Questionable
David Long| LB| Questionable
Travis Kelce | TE| Knee| Questionable
Chris Jones | DT| Calf| Questionable
LeSean McCoy | RB| Illness| Questionable
Matt Moore | QB| Questionable
Storylines to watch
Can Andy Reid win the big game?
In his 20-year career, Andy Reid has led his team to the playoffs 15 times, including five straight playoff appearances with the Chiefs. Kansas City fell one win short of reaching the Super Bowl in 2019, losing to the New England Patriots in overtime. Reid’s last Super Bowl appearance came in 2004, taking the Philadelphia Eagles to the big game.
With the lights being bright this weekend, Reid will have to prove he is capable of leading his team over the hump and coach his team to the Super Bowl.
How will Mike Vrabel handle the moment?
So far in his coach career, the deepest Mike Vrabel has gone into the playoffs was the Divisional Round. Vrabel will make his first appearance in the AFC Championship game. As a player, he made the trip to the AFC Championship game five times as a member of the New England Patriots. The nerves might not be there as he has the playoff mentality. He will be hands as normal and will help battle it out as per usual.
Who wins the battle on the edge?
What the game might come down to is which defense can get to the quarterback and disrupt him? Which team's offensive line will control the edge?
Looking at Tennessee, they have Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin anchoring the edge, making it hard for any team to get to the backfield. Frank Clark and Tanoh Kpassagnon will do their best to be disruptive, with Terrell Suggs coming in and out of the game.
Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz will be holding down the edge for the Kansas City. Harold Landry III, Jeffery Simmons, and Jurrell Casey will be in charge of trying to get to Patrick Mahomes. If the Chiefs offensive line holds up, he will have plenty of time to get the ball to his offensive weapons, tiring out the Titans defense.