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After falling to the New England Patriots in last year’s AFC Championship game, the Kansas City Chiefs find themselves back to being one game away from a Super Bowl appearance. However, their opponent, the Tennessee Titans, have been giant slayers.
Kansas City looked unstoppable after a rough first quarter where they were shut out. From that point, they would put up 51 points, in route to a 51-31 blowout of the Houston Texans.
In their previous face-off in week 10, Tennessee defeated Kansas City, 35-32. Though a lot of it was put on the back running back Derrick Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill had a modest day, throwing for close to 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Key To The Game:
Going into this game, Kansas City is viewed as an absolute favorite to win. However, we’ve seen this before in the weeks prior that saw Tennessee roll past New England and the Baltimore Ravens. Basically when Tennessee wasn’t the favorite, they pulled off an upset.
For Kansas City to win, they have avoid overlooking Tennessee. When a team knows they’re “that good,” they can sometimes put themselves on cruise control for a game and cost themselves dearly. Kansas City needs to stay focused on this game and not worry about the Super Bowl.
There’s no real way stop Derrick Henry, as teams have found out. If they’re going to stand a chance with him, they’ll need to heavily stack box, maybe try employing a 46 defense or “Bear defense.”
While it may leave the passing game a little more vulnerable, it may ultimately play in their favor as Tannehill has yet to break 100 yards passing in the post season. Even crazier, he has yet to throw 20 passes in a single game this postseason.
Offensively, Kansas City is going to avoid forcing the ball into tight spots. Tennessee’s secondary is one that doesn’t mess around: safeties Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro found ways to intercept Baltimore quarterback Lamar Jackson. Add cornerbacks Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler into the mix and those tight spots may have just gotten tighter.
It’s clear Patrick Mahomes is one of the best quarterbacks and can fit balls into tiny windows. That being said, this is not the game to do it. They need to score early and often but they need to do so safely. If they don’t, we could see Tennessee score another upset victory and march to their first Super Bowl since they fell to the then St. Louis Rams in 2000.
The biggest weapon in Tennessee’s arsenal is Derrick Henry. It seemingly doesn’t matter who is playing linebacker, he’ll still run them over. That puts an added pressure on linebackers Damien Wilson and and Reggie Ragland. Linebacker Anthony Hitchens will be the x-factor as he will be needed to bolster the Chiefs against the run.
Hitchens is the leading tackler on this team and as such, he’ll be leaned on to try and stifle Henry. If he can do so, that will force quarterback Ryan Tannehill to throw. If Tannehill has to pass often, than the Chiefs will have the Titans right where they want them.