The Super Bowl is just two games away and the field has been narrowed down to just four teams
It’s championship weekend in the NFL and four teams will battle to win a conference championship and secure a spot in the Superbowl.
For the AFC Championship, the Tennessee Titans will take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Kansas City and in the NFC the Green Bay Packers will head to San Francisco for their matchup against the 49ers.
AFC: Titans vs Chiefs
A true underdog story is unveiling before the football world’s eyes as the Tennessee Titans have fought their way to the AFC Championship. The Titans started their season 2-4, prompting head coach Mike Vrabel to bench starting quarterback and former Heisman winner Marcus Mariota for former Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Tannehill led his team to enough victories to secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs on account of Derrick Henry’s 1,540-yard regular season. Henry has rushed for 377 yards in the last two games of the playoffs.
The Titans were the lowest-seeded team in this year’s playoffs, yet they knocked off the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, and last week they beat the top-seeded Baltimore Ravens who many believed would win this year’s Super Bowl. The Titans have embraced a run dominant style of play and find themselves in the AFC Championship competing for a spot in the Super Bowl.
Their opponent, the Kansas City Chiefs, are present a daunting challenge as they are led by the reigning league MVP Patrick Mahomes. Last week, in the divisional round of the playoffs, the Chiefs fell to a 24-point deficit. Mahomes, not giving up on his team, gave an inspiring sideline speech to his offense.
“They’re playing man coverage. If we catch the ball and make one person miss, it’s a touchdown. Let’s do something special. Let’s do something special. They’re already counting us … out. One play at a time. Do something special,” Mahomes said.
The Chiefs went on to score 41 unanswered points and claimed victory 51-31, clinching their spot in the AFC Championship for the second consecutive year. Mahomes threw for 321 yards and five touchdowns.
The AFC Championship will tell the tale of two drastically different offenses. The Chiefs rely on speed and quickness, throwing the ball downfield as a staple of their offense. Meanwhile, the Titans are a physical ground and pound team that wins games running the football with Derrick Henry. This game will tell which offense is better this late in the playoffs with a chance to go to the Super Bowl on the line.
NFC: Packers vs 49ers
For the NFC Championship, there is less surprise on who is playing in this game. The two top-seeded teams in the NFC, the 49ers and Packers will fight to punch their ticket to Miami.
The 49ers did not start the season as the NFC favorites after finishing with a 4-12 record last season. This year they improved vastly to 13-3. The football world has seen a total transformation of the team thanks to the efforts of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
The packers have also seen their new regime begin with great success as first-year head coach Matt LaFleur finished his first campaign with a record of 13-3.
LaFleur and Shanahan are no strangers to each other. They were both on staff for the Washington Redskins as assistants and on the same staff for the Atlanta Falcons where they helped Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan win a League MVP and a Super Bowl appearance.
These young head coaches are the future of coaching in the NFL and will try to get the better of each other this weekend in the NFC Championship.
The deciding factor in this game is which 49ers defense will show up this weekend. For a majority of the year, the 49ers have fielded a top tier defense led by Nick Bosa and a punishing defensive line. But in the second half of the season, San Francisco’s defense started to give up a lot of points which put extra stress on the offense.
The 49ers need to come out with that same dominant performance they had against the Packers in week 12 when they beat Green Bay 37-8, sacking Aaron Rodgers four times.
The Packers need to protect Rodgers and shut down 49ers tight end George Kittle who has been a game-changer all year long. He truly is the x-factor for the 49ers offense.