After pulling off two straight upset wins, the 9-7 Tennessee Titans are in position to reach the second Super Bowl in their history. All that stands in their way are the AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, in search of their first Super Bowl title in a half-century, coming off their dramatic comeback win over the Houston Texans in the Divisional Playoffs. The Chiefs will also look for revenge for their 35-32 loss to the Titans in Week 10 of the regular season.
Derrick Henry continuing his hot streak
Oh, yes. In two straight weeks, Derrick Henry has torn holes through two of the NFL's best defenses of the regular season - New England and Baltimore - rushing for a total of 377 yards on 64 carries (5.89 yards per carry) with one touchdown while also throwing for a touchdown over the Titans' two playoff games. The Chiefs are ill-prepared to offer resistance, as defensive tackle Chris Jones has not practiced all week due to a calf injury. Without Jones to plug the holes in the offensive line, Henry is destined to go off against a rushing defense that is not of the same caliber that the Titans faced in the previous two weeks. For reference, in their October encounter, Henry rushed for 188 yards as the Titans pulled an upset win.
Patrick Mahomes putting everyone on his back
Unlike the Titans, who can get away with sub-200-yard passing games from Ryan Tannehill week after week because the Titans have the luxury of an excellent running back, the Chiefs rely almost entirely on the arm of Patrick Mahomes. Against these same Titans in week 10, his first game back from injury, Mahomes threw for 446 yards in a losing effort. That's only 19 less than free agent running back LeSean McCoy picked up the entire season.
While the Titans did an adequate job of neutralizing Lamar Jackson last week, the Chiefs' offense is a whole different animal. Tennessee will have their hands full with the amount of weapons they will have to contain, including speedy wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman, and dependable tight end Travis Kelce.
What the Chiefs learned
Looking back at the week 10 Titans-Chiefs matchup, that was a game the Chiefs easily should have won on paper. Even considering that Mahomes was not 100 percent and the Chiefs were playing on the road, Kansas City had the talent on their side. Unfortunately, luck was not on their side that day. Drives that normally ended with seven points stalled and led only to three, if that. Two fourth-quarter field goal attempts failed, sandwiching a last-minute touchdown drive by Ryan Tannehill that gave the Titans the win. It was an uncharacteristically sloppy performance for the Chiefs, and head coach Andy Reid said as much. Kansas City haven't lost a game since, and their comeback victory last week over Houston shows just how dangerous they can be under pressure.