The Conference Championships
So we are now down to the final four. The teams that will compete in two weeks for the biggest prize in professional football. Four preseason games, 16 regular season games, and two weeks of preliminary playoff games have led to this. The possibility to play in the big game and hoist a giant silver football on a stand. Loses some of its luster when described like that, doesn’t it? But here we are so let’s look at our four finalist.
Tennessee Titans vs Kansas City Chiefs
In the early AFC Championship Game, there is the Cinderella team of the Playoffs: The Tennessee Titans. No one gave the Titans much of a chance against New England in the Wild Card Round. But the Titans did what they have done to make themselves successful. They ran the ball with authority, passed when necessary, and played good enough defense to complement the offense.
They dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and turned loose the beast, League rushing leader Derrick Henry. He has rushed for over 180 yards per game in his last three games. If you can do that, you accomplish two things. Run time off the clock and keep the ball out of the other teams hands. That will be the recipe for success today as well.
Their opponent was more expected. Kansas City was one of the preseason favorites. And with a record of 12-4 in the regular season, they lived up to the hype. They are led by last season’s NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. This will be Kansas City’s second straight AFC Championship game. They are coming into this game after falling behind 24-0 to the Houston Texans. They then scored 51 points and are now on the precipice of a game the club hasn’t seen in 50 years.
This game really comes down to what Tennessee can do with their running game. Which will depend a lot on if the Titans can keep from falling too far behind. A huge deficit will almost surely eliminate their opportunity to run the ball.
That puts the ball into Ryan Tannehill’s hands. He has done a great job thus far but it might be asking too much to carry the team on his shoulders. However, if they can establish the run game, as they have in the previous games, they will have a chance. If not, their odds drop considerably. They are not built to win a scoring contest.
So basically it comes down to that. These two teams met earlier in the year with the Titans coming out on top 35-31. So they have done it before. But that result holds no bearing on this game. Because as great as Tennessee has played this postseason, they will have to play their best to have a chance. Anything less than that and Kansas City will be making their 50 year return to the SuperBowl. Let’s go 35-24 KC.
Green Bay Packers vs San Francisco 49ers
The NFC contest features the Green Bay Packers vs. the number one seed the San Francisco 49ers. Two 12-4 teams who have played up to their expectations. These teams are very similar. Both are well balanced teams leaning on the run game but having a good passing attack when needed. What San Francisco has in addition to that is a formidable defense. Especially along the defensive line.
This will be the second meeting between the teams where San Francisco dominated the Packers 37-8. In that game, San Francisco jumped up early which allowed the 49ers to pin their ears back and rush the passer. It was a dominant performance. So what does it mean for this game? Absolutely nothing.
This should be an evenly matched game. Both teams can run the ball and have a passing game that can carry the day if they can’t. As always, turnovers could make a difference. In neither case do you want to give your opponents extra bites of the Apple.
I expect a back and forth affair which would be an exciting game. It could come down to who has the ball last. Here’s a recommendation to the 49ers: Don’t let the game come down to a last minute drive with Aaron Rogers with the ball. You will likely be disappointed in the outcome. But will it happen? As I said, it should be a close game. In the end I am leaning on the home team here…unless Rogers has the ball last with a chance to win. So make it 35-31 San Francisco.
The Super Bowl
That would give us a Super Bowl of Kansas City vs. San Francisco. Which should be a competitive game. However, any combination of the remaining teams would make for a great Super Bowl. Why? In one word, Diversity. Some new blood in the big game is welcome. Sorry New England. It has been suggested that the best outcome would have a KC/Packers Super Bowl. This would be a “Super Bowl I“ rematch which WOULD make for a great story. I, however, admit to having a soft spot for the underdog Titans. Perhaps Kansas City used up all their points against Houston? It has happened. Well why didn’t you pick them then, you might ask? Because I try not to let my heart over rule my head. We will soon see which way it goes.
So you have my take on these games. What do you see happening? Perhaps you see this completely different. Share your prognostications with us at GeekVibesNation.
I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 17 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.