AFC Championship Game Take Two

Here we are again.  The Chiefs are one win away from the super bowl, they are at home and coming off a big win in the divisional round.

The big names have been knocked out.  Brady gone.  Lamar gone.  What is left are the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry who very well could be the scariest football player in these playoffs.   Teams know the running game is coming and have been completely incapable of stopping it.  Both the Ravens and Patriots had top run defenses this season and both got completely run over.   The Chiefs do not have a top run defense and by many metrics is toward the bottom of the league.  Derrick Henry will get his in this game.

On the other side you have the high flying Chiefs who just scored 51 points in less than 3 full quarters erasing a 24-0 1st quarter hole.  In Kansas City they prefer to keep the ball in the MVP’s hand throwing to their playmakers.  There isn’t much interest in running the ball until the end of the game.  These two teams at least offensively are complete opposites.  Like Henry Mahomes and crew will get theirs.

Titans keys to the game:  Do not fall behind early in this one.   If the Titans find themselves down 14-0 in the early going it will take them out of their game plan and force Tannehill to sling it around the field.  Tannehill has been great this season but he isn’t asked to do too much.  He hasn’t even thrown over 100 yards in either playoff win.   The Titans run game opens up the passing game but if they find themselves in an early hole and their passing game becomes more predictable I think you will see a Tannehill closer to what made him a backup at the start of the year.  Titans need to keep on riding Henry with some play action mixed in for some big plays. As long as this game is close the Titans can keep feeding Henry all day long allowing him to wear out the Chiefs defense.

Chiefs keys to the game:  Tackling and finishing off those tackles will be HUGE.  If someone gets their hands on Henry they need to get him on the turf, he has done tons of damage after first contact. They don’t have to stop Henry but they must slow him down and force Tannehill to pick up more first downs rather than letting them just run for them all day long.  This game is all about the Chiefs defense, Mahomes and crew will score but how many chances they have will be determined by how many stops the Defense will be able to come up with.

Both these teams are hot right now.  Chiefs have won 7 in a row, the Titans have been taking down division winners left and right.   Chiefs want to come out fast and get the early lead.  The Titans want to slow the game down and limit the Chiefs offensive possessions.  Neither team can afford early mental errors or turnovers.

In the end I think Mahomes is too much for the Titans pass defense and the Chiefs defense does enough to slow down the running game of the Titans.

Prediction:  31-24 Chiefs win.