A terrific showdown in America's heartland will determine this year's AFC champion. Can Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid can finally get his team over its playoff hump, or will the sixth-seeded Tennessee Titans ride their magic carpet all the way to Miami?
If there is anything to be learned so far from this year's postseason, it is to expect the unexpected, and with that in mind, here's what could be in store for Reid and this Chiefs team against arguably the conference's biggest underdog contender of the decade.
1. Patrick Mahomes Overcomes Another Early Deficit
Kansas City fell behind in epic fashion in last Sunday's divisional round. Fortunately for the Chiefs, they were playing the Bill O'Brien-led Houston Texans, and made up a 24-0 deficit before halftime. Meanwhile, Tennessee's shocking upset of the top-seeded Ravens was due in large part to a momentum shifting 14-point run in the first half. Pat Mahomes and his offense have shown that they have all the firepower they need to make an early lead evaporate quickly if and when they're slow out of the gate.
2. Defense Limits Derrick Henry to His Worst Game of the Postseason
The Chiefs' defense biggest priority on Sunday will be the man who has carried the Titans offense to its first two wins. Derrick Henry has been one of the most unstoppable players in this year's playoffs so far. Kansas City boast the league's third-best rushing defense, and limited Houston's leading rusher, Carlos Hyde, to only 44 yards on the ground last week. If there was any AFC unit in this year's playoffs that could contain Henry, it's the Chiefs. It also doesn't hurt that the game is at the notoriously loud Arrowhead Stadium, a venue that has been punishing to opposing offenses over the years.
3. Chiefs Will Keep Throwing it Despite Leading in the 4th Quarter
Some habits just never quite die off. The last playoff meeting between the Chiefs and the Titans in the 2017 Wild Card saw Kansas City take a 21-10 lead into the fourth quarter. What happened next was a series of events that Chiefs fans (and at one points Eagles fans) have come to expect under their head coach. On a third and short, Reid had a chance to call a run play, pick up the first down and keep the clock going. Tennessee eventually rallied for a 22-21 lead with a whopping six minutes left and a chance for the Chiefs to answer with a game-winning field goal. Reid continued to call pass plays despite enough time and Alex Smith could not get the job done. Don't be surprised if this happens all over again.
Stream the Titans vs. Chiefs in the AFC Championship live Sunday, January 19th at 3PM ET on CBS All Access. Try it FREE now! -- cbsallaccess.qflm.net/RqzkN