AFC Championship Preview!
Words by Corey Benham
The 9-7 Tennessee Titans head to Arrowhead Stadium this Sunday to face off against the 12-4 Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC Championship and the right to represent the AFC in the SuperBowl.
There is no doubt that the Titans come into this game as underdogs, despite beating defending champions the New England Patriots on wildcard weekend & then thenumber one seed Baltimore Ravens in the divisional round. However, they are currently running their offence through workhorse running back Derrick Henry, who has ran for 175+ yards in both playoffs games this year. Henry has emerged as a dominant force that no team has been able to stop all season, he ended the 2019 season leading the league with 1,540 rush yards and 16 TD’s (tied 1st). If the Titans manage to continue this fierce ground attack against the Chiefs they will make it very hard for that Kansas City defence to keep the game close for Patrick Mahomes and the offence. So key player DE Frank Clark needs to step up and make big plays in the run game to help slow down Derrick Henry.
Even if the Chiefs defence is able to shutdown Derrick Henry on Sunday the Titans could still unleash a scary air attack led by quarterback Ryan Tannehill and rookie wide receiver AJ Brown. Brown has been a constant threat in the air all year racking up 1,051 receiving yards and 8 TD’s. He has emerged as a contender for rookie of the year. As for Tannehill he came in at QB for the Titans during the week 6 matchup against the Broncos when he came off the bench replacing Marcus Mariota. After a solid performance the Titans named him their starting QB heading into the Chargers game week 7, since then he hasn’t looked back. He led the Titans to the playoffs after winning 7 out of 10 starts and finished the season with the highest QB rating in the NFL (117.5). So the Chiefs cannot sleep on this Tennessee passing game because if they do then the Titans have the weapons and ability to air the ball out for big yards.
That isn’t the only challenge we will see in this game. The Tennessee defence has to find a way to stop the high-flying Chiefs offence lead by reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. They ranked 6th in total offence in 2019 and 5th in passing.
This is going to be very tough for the Titans as their defence ranked 21st in 2019, if they are going to pull off this huge upset to reach the SuperBowl their defence is going to have to step up and make big plays all game to try and shutdown Kansas City.
When it comes to executing the game-plans there are not many coaches better at it than Andy Reid, the Chiefs have very rarely made mistakes on offence when they run the game-plan through stars TE Travis Kelce & WR Tyreek Hill who can take over a game when the ball is in their hands.
Against the Houston Texans Kelce had 10 receptions for 134 yards and 3 TD’s, the Chiefs won the game 51-31. Kelce completely took over the game when they managed to get the ball to him through a creative offensive scheme.
WR Tyreek Hill did miss 6 weeks of the regular season due to injury affecting his production, however he has shown many times in his 4 year career that when you get him the ball he can make special plays from nothing, so watch for him to have his game of the year this Sunday against the Titans.
If the Chiefs can continue their offensive dominance in the championship game, they will make it extremely hard for the Titans to keep up in a shootout.
This game is shaping up as a must watch! It is very hard to predict who will come out on top, it will be very interesting to see if the Titans can continue their smash mouth style of football against a solid Kansas City defence or if the Chiefs high flying passing attack will be too much for the Tennessee Titans to handle.
My prediction is the Chiefs defeat the Titans 34-24 in a tough fought game that showcases old school football VS modern era football.
Key players to watch out for:
Tennessee Titans - RB Derrick Henry & WR AJ Brown
Kansas City Chiefs - TE Travis Kelce & DE Frank Clark