It's Titans-Chiefs in AFC Championship: What to Know
Kansas City, here they come.
The Tennessee Titans will face the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship after the Chiefs whipped the Houston Texans 51-31 in a divisional playoff game Sunday.
Kansas City tied with New England for the second-best record in the AFC at 12-4 and earned the No. 2 seed for the playoffs. It’s the highest remaining seed on the AFC side after Tennessee eliminated No. 1 Baltimore 28-12 on Saturday.
It will be the second postseason encounter in three years between two of the original AFL franchises, only this time the stakes will be higher. Tennessee won 22-21 at Kansas City in a 2017 wild card game.
Here are some things to know about the last team that stands between the Titans and Super Bowl LIV:
Second time around: The Titans and Chiefs met during the regular season, and Tennessee’s march to the playoffs began in earnest that day. A 35-32 victory Nov. 10 at Nissan Stadium was the start of a four-game win streak and the first of four in which the Titans’ scored 35 points or more. That effort included a fumble return for a touchdown by linebacker Rashaan Evans.
That’s the good news. Houston and Kansas City met during the regular season as well. The Texans won that one 31-24, which was not exactly a preview of what was to come in Sunday’s divisional playoff matchup.
Full speed into halftime: The first quarter was a primary area of concern for the Titans against New England and Baltimore, both of which were fast starters during the regular season. In each case, Tennessee was ahead at the end of the first 15 minutes.
With Kansas City, the second quarter is the time to be on full alert. The Chiefs averaged a league-high 11.1 points per game in the second quarter during the regular season and outscored their opponents by an average of 6.9 points per game in that period. Their 177 points scored in the second were the most by any team in any quarter in 2019.
Houston found out the hard way Sunday just how good Kansas City at that time of the game. The Texans led 21-0 after the first but trailed 28-24 at halftime.
Air it out: Of the NFL’s 12 playoff teams, only three attempted more passes during the regular season that Kansas City with 576, and no playoff team ran it less often than the Chiefs, who did so 375 times.
K.C. might have thrown it even more than it did had quarterback Patrick Mahomes not missed two games in October with an injury. Mahomes’ first game back was the loss to the Titans, and he attempted a season-high 50 passes in that one.
Run over: Of the NFL’s 12 playoff teams, Kansas City was the worst when it came to stopping the run. Opponents averaged 128.2 rushing yards per game and 4.9 yards per carry. Six different backs rushed for better than 100 yards against the Chiefs but none fared better than Derrick Henry (pictured), who rushed for 188 yards and two touchdowns on just 23 attempts in the November matchup. His 68-yard touchdown run in the third quarter was the longest rushing play Kansas City allowed and the longest scoring play against its defense all season.
Been a long time: The Chiefs won Super Bowl IV following the 1969 season but have not been back to the big game since. This will be just their third appearance in the conference championship game since then, but their second straight. Kansas City lost to New England 37-31 with a Super Bowl berth at stake last year. Its only other AFC Championship appearance was in 1993.