Looking to capitalize on the momentum gained in last week’s comeback win over the Houston Texans, the Kansas City Chiefs are set to host the Tennesse Titans for an AFC Championship showdown at Arrowhead Stadium. This is the second time the Chiefs have hosted the AFC Championship, and the third time they have made it this far since winning the Super Bowl in the 1969-70 season. The game is set for Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020, beginning at 3:05 p.m. EST. The contest will be broadcast on CBS.
History hasn’t been kind to Kansas City, so it’s easy to imagine what might be running through the minds of players and staff. There’s also the additional pressure to succeed since this year is the 50th anniversary of the Chiefs’ only Super Bowl win.
Despite the history, the Chiefs are riding high on their stunning comeback against the Houston Texans. However, they can’t allow it to muddy their judgment of the Titans. The Titans defeated the Chiefs in Week 10 of the regular season, 35-32, and though that might be useful in motivating the players, keep in mind that the Chiefs are 3-7 against them since 2000.
The Week 10 matchup was Patrick Mahomes’s first game back from his injury, and the defense hadn’t fully found itself yet. The case might be made that this isn’t the same Chiefs team that the Titans played against because, after that loss, the Chiefs went on to win the remaining six games of the season.
Here are four key elements the Chiefs need to embrace in order to win against the Titans.
1. Don’t fall behind
The Chiefs have shown us they have the ability and the will to create comebacks. They did it in the AFC Championship last year against the Patriots to force overtime, and they did it this year against the Texans. The Titans are riding high on the victories over the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens, as both were excellent teams who couldn’t come back after the Titans took the lead. If the Chiefs have a slow start, there’s no guarantee that the Titans will give them the chance to recover.
2. Don’t take your foot off the pedal
If they are able to create any type of lead, then they need to keep pushing. If they pull back or show any signs of complacency, then the Titans will attempt to impose their will on the game. The Chiefs need to attempt to score touchdowns on every possession like they did for seven straight possessions against Houston. Despite previous issues with appearing to sit back when they have the lead, the game against the Texans has shown what’s possible when the Chiefs don’t stop for anything at all.
3. Contain or stop Derrick Henry
While the Chiefs don’t have the greatest track record against a running offense, keeping Derrick Henry from having a good game is key. In Week 10, he was able to score two touchdowns and had 188 yards against the Chiefs. Despite the improvement of the Chiefs’ defense over the last few games of the season, keep in mind that the defenses of the New England Patriots and the Baltimore Ravens were unable to go a good job of containment. Stopping him might be difficult, but containing and not allowing him to make big plays will be a major factor in keeping the Titans from scoring.
4. Utilize all offense weapons at Patrick Mahomes’s disposal
Mahomes has a plethora of players that can be utilized in different situations. We’ve seen it throughout the regular season, and even in the game against the Texans. The Titans’ defense is 10th-worst in allowing points per game and 12th-worst in total yards allowed per game. The Titans didn’t do a great job of containing Tyreek Hill in Week 10, and the Chiefs need to exploit that. Mahomes also needs to get the ball in the hands of Travis Kelce, Damien Williams, Mecole Hardman, and all the others. Maybe give Blake Bell another touchdown.
Though nothing is ever guaranteed, the Chiefs are the favorites in this game for a reason. They can’t neglect or overlook their opponent’s embracing of the underdog role over the past few weeks. The Chiefs will come out victorious against the Titans if they live in the moment, taking it play by play and by never giving up.
The Chiefs have been on a roll since their Week 10 loss against the Titans, and if they play their cards right, they’ll keep on rolling … right on into Miami.
Prediction: Chiefs 31, Titans 24