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vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - asskickingboots - 01-13-2020

Chiefs vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game

Last week I started typing immediately out of convenience, knowing all of the who / what / where details during the weekend. This week I got home from the game in the evening and had to leave for work by 4 AM (don’t worry, I’m not the one driving, finishing this on the road hence no memes), so I started typing this immediately out of necessity or I otherwise wouldn’t be able to until Wednesday. You are welcome for my sacrifice.

These Chiefs
Our mindset as KC fans has long been one of waiting for the other shoe to drop. We’re used to playoff tragedy. We’re used to heartbreak. We’re used to everything going wrong exactly when we can least afford it.

We’re used to insurmountable leads being… surmounted, and surmounted hard at that. We’re used to elite units being dragged to hell by their inept counterparts. We’re used to being exposed for our shortcomings before the entire nation.

I watched Arrowhead go from almost painfully amped to frustrated silence. No, the crowd hadn’t given up on the team, but when they saw the Chiefs fall behind 24-0 largely behind a rapid succession of dropped passes and fluke blunders it felt all too familiar. I felt like this could be the ultimate “because, chiefs” moment. So many circumstances aligning in the team’s favor just to see the playoffs end as soon as they began, or so it seemed.

We aren’t those Chiefs anymore.

We aren’t the team that failed to win a playoff game for 20 straight years anymore. That team is dead and buried.

We’re the team that’s hosting the AFC Championship game for the 2nd year in a row. We’re 2-1 so far the past 2 years in the playoffs.

We are not lovable losers. We are not chokers. We are not doomed to fail

If you don’t believe that, understand this win wasn’t possible for most teams. To overcome a 24-point deficit to a division winning playoff team takes a complete team effort. To do so with time to coast to a 20-point victory takes the stuff of legend. It took offensive, defensive and special teams dominance for 3 quarters. This will be a fun little detour in the team’s DVD after the season. We have to get used to all this winning finally.

Like Sylvester Stallone in Over the Top, the greatest arm wrestling child custody movie of all-time, it was like a switch. The moment Mecole Hardman had a big return the crowd was back into it. It wasn't just a snowball effect, it was an avalanche. 

We are a mythic chimera and no one wants any of this. There isn’t a derpy lion’s head or malnourished snake tail like in year’s past. There isn’t a weakness to be had. We are glorious!

It may take a beast of legend to slay a titan.

O’ Henry
“Oh man, nothing that big should move that fast.” That’s what John Mayberry, then the Royals hitting coach, said of Bo Jackson. I can’t think of a more accurate description of Henry’s running style recently.

Now the two aren’t really physically  comparable. Bo had blazing, borderline Tyreek Hill speed and did so at an impressive 6’1”, 220 lbs, but that’s far different than Henry who ran a far slower 4.5 forty, yet dwarfs Bo at 6’5”, 250. Henry’s functional downhill speed is dependent on already having a full head of steam to try to escape defenders, not instant-on, zero to sixty speed like Bo.

Physically the better comparison is Christian Okoye who was a little more stout (6’1”, 250) and slightly faster timed speed, but there’s still a major difference in their game. Okoye was still learning the game at the pro level. Henry has been incredible since he was in high school. You ever wonder what a more polished Okoye would look like before injuries ate at him? It’d look a lot like Henry.

How well the Chiefs handle the challenge of the Titans as a whole clearly hinges on how well they handle Henry and what else they have to sacrifice to stop him if they do.

The Hottest Team in the NFL
If there’s one consistent thing I’ve heard people call the Titans the past day or so, it’s exactly that. The hottest team in the NFL. It seems neat and easy to agree to, but it’s downright ignorant of reality.

Obviously, the same talking heads were saying the same thing about Baltimore, and you see what that got them; an early vacation. There’s also another team out there that’s been doing pretty good as of late that may have a word about that.

But it’s especially easy to forget this; the Titans lost 2 of the last 3 regular season games and nearly pissed away their playoff hopes to the undeserving Steelers and vile Raiders before facing a Houston team resting their starters in week 17, a Houston team that just beat the Titans a couple weeks earlier. If Houston were trying, they might have dealt the knockout blow to their division foe.

It is true that this team has played vastly better since they replaced Marcus Mariota with Ryan Tannehil at QB, but it wasn’t some tour de force or fait accompli. They backed their way into the playoffs. The Titans are lucky they ever got a shot, even if they’ve impressed in the playoffs.

The Chiefs are lucky to host the AFC Championship game, but few ever doubted their place in the playoffs. The Chiefs have a stranglehold on the AFC West that makes Ted Nugent jealous. They’ve won their last 7 games, and most of the wins have been by double digits.

Even the Niners lost to the Falcons in the past month. If anyone has been bulletproof lately, it’s the Chiefs.

Stats Don’t Matter Now
If I were to take a real deep statistical dive in this game it would be a boring exercise. The Chiefs are clearly better. The Chiefs have the better overall offense and defense regardless of what major metric you’re using. If you are comparing the teams since their last meeting it’s even more clear. The Chiefs dominate in most efficiency metrics too.

I guess one angle worth discussing is the Titans struggles to protect the passer. They have the 2nd fewest pass attempts (28 per game) yet gave up the 3rd most sacks (3.5 per game). The Chiefs have been lighting up opposing QBs lately, forcing both sacks and INTs at a higher rate later in the season. When the Titans do pass it tends to be deep, so generating pressure early is key.

On the negative side you could say the Titans have a better rushing offense to no one’s surprise, but I’d view it mostly as an utter dependence on the run game. This does line up with a perceived weakness against the run for KC, but I’ve pointed out before there’s been a significant improvement on that front as of late.

Prime example, the Chiefs gave up 98 less rushing yards against the Texans in the divisional round (94) than they did in week 6 (192) despite the first being a game the mostly led and the second being a game they trailed significantly early. I’d argue the Texans trying to force the run after they had the lead was part of what allowed the Chiefs to end their drives.

It’s a completely different team defensively and I think people are back on board with the offense. All things considered, the Chiefs plainly have the better team and they’re feeling just as good about themselves as the Titans.

However, we’re to the point that what you did yesterday has little to do with what you do today. It’s the playoffs, it’s single elimination, and it’s time to put up or shut up.

It’s time to see which team can add up to more, and in this format a team can easily add up to more than the sum of their parts. All it takes is a good gameplan, good execution, and a little luck.

It's time to bring the Lamar Hunt trophy home!

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - Chi-town_Chief - 01-13-2020

I'm so pumped for this game.

Despite the team giving up 31 to the Texans this defense is still vastly improved. Kc spotted then 14 on turnovers. The first drive if the game the D had major blown coverage. But they only gave up 7 points in the 2nd half.

This isn't the same team that the Titans played keep away from last time they met. If Chris Jones is back I don't know that we can stop Henry completely, but I believe we can slow him down. Get some big stops when needed and this O can do the rest.

Another scary thing to think about. Mahomes is better than last year. Period. Last year in big games mahomes would start slow but then make huge plays in the 2nd half. That's what happened against the pats. Bad 1st half and then ran out of time in the 2nd. Despite going down 24-0 yesterday, none of that was on mahomes. He was accurate from the first play. His receivers just kept dropping the ball.

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - Razorchief - 01-13-2020


Nice read.

I love this quote from the article
"I know he's confident in this team, because he's the one who put it together."

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - tyecopeland - 01-15-2020

Jones still not practicing. Kelce did.

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - mabbott - 01-17-2020

(01-15-2020, 06:34 PM)tyecopeland Wrote:  Jones still not practicing. Kelce did.
Jones was practicing today!!!

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - asskickingboots - 01-17-2020

Yep, Chris Jones was a Limited Participant and Questionable. Kelce is still listed, but not Questionable, so that's good.

Matt Moore and LeSean McCoy are also Questionable.

7 Titans listed as Questionable, none of which are named Derrick Henry.

Those Questionable Titans are WR Adam Humphries, WR Cody Hollister, LB Jayon Brown, LB Rashaan Evans, LB David Long, CB Adoree Jackson, and T Jack Conklin


RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - tyecopeland - 01-17-2020

If their tackle is out or gimpy, that's a big advantage for us. I know nothing about him but their line has been a big boost for their offense this year. One of those lbs and the corner are starters too so if they are limited that helps kelce and damien too.

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - asskickingboots - 01-18-2020

(01-17-2020, 09:36 PM)tyecopeland Wrote:  If their tackle is out or gimpy, that's a big advantage for us. I know nothing about him but their line has been a big boost for their offense this year. One of those lbs and the corner are starters too so if they are limited that helps kelce and damien too.

Missing depth at LB is a big deal too.

Tennessee's postseason success on defense has been predicated on forcing teams off the field through a combination of turnovers, failed 4th downs, and forcing FG attempts in the redzone. This is an unsustainable strategy and not something they were capable of doing in the regular season when they had the 2nd worst red zone percentage on defense.

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - tyecopeland - 01-18-2020

They did hold us to several field goals in week 10 but I think most of them were when we were at like their 20-30 so not technically the red zone.

RE: vs. Titans - AFC Championship Game - asskickingboots - 01-18-2020

(01-18-2020, 12:49 PM)tyecopeland Wrote:  They did hold us to several field goals in week 10 but I think most of them were when we were at like their 20-30 so not technically the red zone.

Yes, only one of their stops on us in the first game was technically in the red zone. Still I'm using that stat to point out how uncharacteristic of them it is to get stops. They've been getting stops in the playoffs too, I just think it's been some luck, circumstance, and the other side failing as opposed to a measure of success for the Titans themselves.

If we do what most teams did to them in the red zone this time (68.1%) or better, there's no way they're going to win without a slew of oddities to cover for them. That's more or less what it took for them last time (blocked FG, bobbled FG snap, etc.)