Heading to their second consecutive AFC Championship game, the KC Chiefs will match-up with Tennessee, a team that got the best of them in the regular season.
The Kansas City Chiefs offense was shot out of a cannon on Sunday afternoon once they realized their playoff demons were catching up with them yet again. Finding themselves in a 24-point hole, seemingly in the blink of an eye, Patrick Mahomes differentiated himself once again, yelling at his teammates to keep their heads up on the sidelines, refusing to let history repeat itself.
Just like that – the mistake-riddled Chiefs flipped a switch and scored 28 unanswered points in less than ten game minutes to go into half time with a lead. They never looked back after the MVP’s plea and the Texans never had a chance; they had already been defeated mentally. Kansas City will sprint into the AFC Championship game, hosting for the the second straight season.
Coming off that enormous high will be a must for a Kansas City team that has yet to win anything. This Tennessee juggernaut is just as hot and confident, if not more so, after obliterating the best team in football in Baltimore.
The Titans started off their own run to the AFC title game against Kansas City in week ten, shocking the Chiefs on a last second blocked field goal. Ryan Tannehill is 9-3, including this postseason, after he took over as starter against the Chargers in week 7. He and Derrick Henry are cementing their own legacy and are an extremely terrifying foe, even if it’s not Brady or Lamar.
Here are the keys to leading the Chiefs to their first Super Bowl in many of our lifetimes.
Number 5 – Containing Derrick Henry
The single biggest priority for the Chiefs is containing the 6’3″, 240 pound, one-man wrecking crew. While Tannehill may have gotten the Titans into the playoffs with his outstanding play, Henry has single-handedly put them in this position. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for 170 yards in back to back postseason games after last Saturday’s route of the Ravens.
Both the Patriots and Ravens knew what they were up against and still could not stop Henry in any capacity. The Chiefs now understand this same feat and all they can do is sell out against the running back in hope of holding him to under five yards a carry. There is the possibility that Mike Vrabel may go to more play action in this game to catch Steve Spagnuolo off guard, but he will more than likely go back to the well.
The Chiefs’ weakness against the running game is well-documented over the last two years, making this a great match-up for the Titans on paper, even if the Chiefs may be the better team. Henry went for 188 yards and two touchdowns rushing against Kansas City in week ten, keeping the Titans in the game and allowing them to win in the final seconds.
Without a doubt, Henry can send the Chiefs into the offseason if he keeps up this ridiculous pace. A lot of it will be Spagnuolo’s scheme, but even more vital will be tackling. What makes Henry so special is his ability to bust through all arm tackles even if the defense is schemed to stop him.
According to The Ringer, the Ravens put eight or more defenders in the box on 63% of Henry’s carries and he still went for 124 yards against that front on those 19 rushes. Chris Jones‘ availability for this game will be incredibly important. If he does suit up, he would help the run defense immensely.
If Vrabel slows the game down with Henry getting 6-7 yards a play while keeping the Chiefs offense off the field, Kansas City will be in deep trouble.