The AFC Divisional Round has concluded and the Kansas City Chiefs are set to host the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship next week. The game will kick off at 3:05 p.m. ET on CBS. Most didn’t expect these two teams to be facing off for a chance to secure a Super Bowl appearance, but it’s shaping up to be an exciting matchup.
The Titans had one of the most interesting success stories in the NFL this year. They started off the year 2-4 and their chances of winning it all looked slim after they were forced to bench quarterback Marcus Mariota for Ryan Tannehill. But that decision turned out to be the best move for their success. After being named Tennessee’s starter in late-October, Tannehill had the best quarterback rating in the NFL for the remainder of the regular season. He threw for at least two touchdowns in every regular season start but one, but he’s not throwing the ball quite as much now.
While Tannehill was the change of pace that turned the Titans’ season around, running back Derrick Henry has powered the team through the playoffs. Henry, the NFL’s rushing leader, has totaled more than 180 yards on the ground in three consecutive contests. He hasn’t carried the ball less than 30 times since Week 16. He’ll likely get at least 30 carries for a fourth game straight game next week, and the Titans hope he’s enough to keep up with Kansas City’s lethal passing attack.
The Chiefs have made strides on the defensive end since the 2018 season but had a real scare in the Divisional Round. They trailed 24-0 at Arrowhead Stadium before going on a 51-7 run that eventually led to 51-31 victory over the Houston Texans. Teams can put points on the board against Kansas City, but most can’t keep up with its high-octane offense.
Reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes opened up this year’s playoffs in a way few other quarterbacks could hope to match. He tied an NFL record by throwing for four touchdowns in the second quarter alone against the Texans and finished with five touchdown passes. He tallied 321 through the air in the contest. Weapons like Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Damien Williams and Mecole Hardman give Kansas City limitless firepower. It’s not hard to see why some prematurely crowned them as Super Bowl champs last year, and they might be better this time around.
Which of these two contrasting styles will prevail next Sunday? That remains to be seen. What we do know is that both teams will give it their all to reach the final stage.