We’re through the AFC Wild Card round, and that means the Divisional Round matchups are set. The Baltimore Ravens and Kansas City Chiefs have waited patiently for their opponents to be decided, and here’s the lineup for next weekend.
Tennessee Titans @ Baltimore Ravens, Saturday, January 11, 8:15 p.m. CBS
The Titans went to Gillette Stadium and managed to upset the New England Patriots 20-13, and they did it by staying true to themselves. Derrick Henry exploded for 184 rushing yards and a score on 34 carries. Pounding the ground and running the clock was the perfect game plan. Ryan Tannehill has been a stud since assuming a starting role under center, but couldn’t extend his multi-touchdown streak to seven games. He only managed to complete eight of his 15 throws for 72 yards and a score. Tennessee will face Baltimore — another run-powered team — in the Divisional Round. But the Ravens also have one of the league’s better run-stopping defenses. The Titans could be in for another grinder next weekend.
The Ravens topped off this year’s regular season with a second straight AFC North title, posting a league-best 14-2 record. Their defense remains sturdy and all quarterback controversy has been eliminated thanks to Lamar Jackson’s MVP-caliber season. Since parting ways with Joe Flacco, Baltimore has designed the perfect offense for Jackson, which capitalizes dynamic ability as a runner in the open field. While the system is does make the most of Jackson’s mobility, his improvement as a passer won’t limit it. Now Baltimore will kick off its postseason as one of the favorites.
Houston Texans @ Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, January 12, 3:05 p.m. CBS
After trailing the Buffalo Bills by 16 points, the Texans mounted an impressive second-half comeback to claim a 22-19 overtime win. Deshaun Watson didn’t manage to connect with his star wideout DeAndre Hopkins once in the first two quarters of the contest but used his legs to keep his team in the game by rushing for a score and a two-point conversion before finding some success in the air. This marked Watson’s sixth come-from-behind victory in fourth quarter or overtime this year, and Houston won’t get a break in the Divisional Round. Its passing attack will have to be better against Kansas City and its high-powered offense.
This season’s Chiefs aren’t as dynamic as the 2018 squad that put up a league-leading 35.3 points per contest last year, but they do still have one of the NFL’s more explosive offenses. Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill are all elite offensive weapons that can carry the scoring load without Kareem Hunt. Offense was never a problem for Kansas City. Its weaknesses stemmed from an abysmal secondary, which has improved significantly since last year. Now that the Chiefs do a better job of keeping opposing teams off the board, they should have a better shot at making a deep playoff run.