2019 AFC Championship Preview: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Tennessee Titans

Here we are on the day to find out who will make their way to Miami and Super Bowl LIV. Its the best week of football as the two cities that host the conference championships have the hardcore rank and file fans that have cheered their teams all season. So it has a more visceral emotional feeling than an antiseptic corporate Super Bowl crowd.

The raw emotion that is felt comes from the home team either moving on to the Super Bowl or finality of the season is over.

One week after a historic comeback in their 51-31 win over Houston, Mahomes is in a rare position. This is his 2nd straight AFC Championship Game at home and with a victory he’s off to be the face of the NFL with a Super Bowl appearance. With a loss and he becomes this generation’s Dan Fouts. Who had several great years but had his legacy derailed with huge home losses in ’79 playoffs & an AFC Championship loss in 1980.

Mahomes is on pace to break Kurt Warner’s record for most yards in his 1st four playoff games and will have to carry the Chiefs today. In this game he has to come out and land haymakers early and establish a 14-0 or 14-3 lead to knock Tennessee from the gameplan of turning and handing the football off to bruising Derrick Henry. They cannot come out with jitters as they did last week with 4 drops in their 1st four possessions. This included a couple drops by All World TE Travis Kelce.

If they do Kansas City’s glass jaw can totally be exposed in their defense. Yes the Chiefs have improved defensively this year with a ranking of 16th where they were 31st last year. However a closer look and they are 28th in yards allowed per carry with 4.9 yards per crack.

That doesn’t bode well when Derrick Henry is on a historic playoff run. First the 182 yards in knocking off the #1 defense and defending champion Patriots. Then the 195 yards on 30 carries trampling the 4th ranked Ravens in a 28-12 win. That doesn’t bode well. It isn’t the yards as much as it’s Henry and this offensive line imposing their will on a front 7. On a group giving up nearly 5 yards per carrry? Yikes!

Mahomes, Travis Kelce, and Tyreek Hill have to make the huge plays as they did last week. Come on… they scored on 8 straight possessions which is an NFL playoff record. Kelce made up for his early drops with 10 rec 134 yards and a playoff record 3TDs. He as to be the guy as cold neutralizes speed and Hill won’t be that effective. One or two big splash plays maybe but Kelce has to move the chains.

To The Chancellor of Football this is a replay of the 2000 Baltimore Ravens run to the title. They changed their quarterback mid year (Trent Dilfer/Ryan Tannehill) who had been shipped from a prior team whose city is hosting that year’s Super Bowl (Tampa/Miami). In 2000 the game that announced this was a hot team powering their way to the Super Bowl Baltimore powered through a physical Titan team on the road. This time Henry and Tennessee gut punched the Ravens in Baltimore’s house.

The last 3 games between these teams the Titans have won including two playoff games with one a 22-21 wildcard win in Arrowhead. No Mahomes wasn’t on the tear that he is now but styles make fights.

In an upset the Tennessee Titans win this game in a 27-17 win playing keep away. This is the NFL’s 100th season and we’re going to back to it’s roots. Titans going to Super Bowl LIV!

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The 2018 Taylor Blitz Times Offensive MVP Preview: Patrick Mahomes

Up until two weeks ago, the Kansas City Chiefs were sailing into uncharted waters. They were scoring at a rate of 37 points per game as they raced out to a gaudy 10-1 record. Patrick Mahomes was leading the most dynamic offense in the NFL that could score from anywhere. We hadn’t seen this lethal speed since “The Greatest Show on Turf” Rams earlier this century. Now what will happen as play calling will change as Kareem Hunt’s departure allows defenses to descend upon the young QB??

Before we made it to last week’s 40-33 win over the Oakland Raiders and last week’s 27-24 escape of the Ravens, the NFL’s biggest controversy saw the Chiefs release Kareem Hunt amid domestic violence allegations.

Of course Mahomes was masterful completing 23 of 38 for 295 yards and another “ho-hum” 4 touchdown performance against the moribund Raiders. But that is Jon Gruden’s tanking organization. Against the Ravens #1 ranked defense, Mahomes had to put in a little more work connecting on 35 of 53 aerials for 377 yards, 2 scores and an interception.

However the next 2 weeks provide a daunting task as Mahomes faces the L.A. Chargers (8th in defense) in an important AFC rubber match before taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest for a rugged game with the streaking Seahawks. Each of these present formidable challenges for the first year starter although he’s really had a season for the ages.

Aside from Hall of Fame legend Kurt Warner, no 1st year quarterback in NFL history can match Mahomes performance. With 3 games to go he already broke Warner’s single season record of 41 TDs for a 1st year starter with 43. With 4,300 yards he has a legitimate chance at 5,000 yards. Something Dan Marino didn’t do until his 2nd season as a starter.

Yes I know the rules have been relaxed but you have to give credit where it’s due. Look at Blake Bortles, Paxton Lynch, or even Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota…. have they shown this type of promise or command??

Mahomes has benefitted greatly learning from “The Quarterback Whisperer” in Head Coach Andy Reid. Keep in mind Brett Favre’s MVP seasons happened under his tutelage. Reid also drafted and developed Donovan McNabb where they went to 5 conference championships together and resurrected Michael Vick’s career.

The Chancellor and Andy Reid at The Gold Jacket Dinner 2018.

Outside of Kansas City many of us worried Coach Reid had over-invested in turning the franchise over to Mahomes. Yet he has shown maturity even in prime time games with the 352 yard 4 touchdown performance in a 43-40 loss to Tom Brady and New England. He starred again on the national stage with a 478 yard 6TD performance in a 54-51 loss in Los Angeles. Sure he threw 3 interceptions but only 1 other time in history can you find a 1st year starter tossing 6TDs in an NFL game.

However he does get the rubber match with the LA Chargers and the winner is in line for homefield advantage throughout the AFC playoffs. Mahomes gets this game at home however defenses are adjusting to the Chiefs without Kareem Hunt.

How will he perform in these last 3 games as a marked man?? As for Taylor Blitz Times Offensive Player of the Year he is definitely in the running and is one of the players who has clearly defined this season.

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The NFL’s Best Team is in L.A. But It Isn’t The Rams

As the games in the NFL are starting to heat up many teams are starting to gain notice that weren’t the early favorites. Now of course you look around and the 8-1 Kansas City Chiefs playing the 8-1 Rams jump out at you. The only team that has played both actually has the longest winning streak in the AFC at 6 straight… and that is the Chargers.

Gordon has been the most electrifying back in the AFC.

Keep in mind we haven’t seen the Chargers at full potential yet as DE Joey Bosa hasn’t hit the field in 2018. Without him the Chargers are still 8th in sacks (26) with 5 1/2 by Melvin Engram III and a respectable 14th overall. Yet the loss of ILB Denzel Perryman, lost to IR this week, could come back to haunt.

On offense Phillip Rivers is enjoying an MVP level season completing 67.2% of his passes for 2,459 yards and 21 TDs. The fact he has matured and has only 4 interceptions shows he has turned the corner. He isn’t having the late game meltdowns as he had earlier in his career or mind numbing interceptions to derail the Chargers when they play inferior competition. His career has been plagued by that.

In all actuality he is playing for his legacy. This is his 15th season and he is in no man’s land with history connecting him to Drew Brees (NFL’s leading passer) and fellow draft alums Eli Manning, and Ben Roethlisberger. These men have 5 Super Bowl championships and 9 conference championship appearances between them. All this before bringing up Tom Brady who won 3 more titles during his era and defeating him in the only AFC Championship he appeared in back in 2007.

Even now he sees the future in a young Patrick Mahomes and what he is doing with the AFC West leading Kansas City Chiefs. What will history say about Rivers once his playing days are over?? He is stuck in this twilight and needs a Super Bowl championship to escape this purgatory.

Aiding him in the NFL’s 8th ranked offense is the tremendous play of 4th year back Melvin Gordon. Not only is he on pace for a 1,300 yard season on the ground (672 yards rushing/361 yards receiving) he has 11 combined touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who’s mother wouldn’t wear his jersey when he didn’t score as a rookie. He now has 35 in 2 1/2 seasons. Yet all he hears about is the Chiefs Kareem Hunt, who led the league in rushing last year, and fellow L.A. running back Todd Gurley.

This forgotten team out in Los Angeles is dangerous and has no obvious weaknesses. The one thing they could work on is getting more turnovers.

Which brings us to the elephant in the room… the chip on the shoulder of every one of these LA Chargers. Not only are they vagabonds in LA, ushered away and playing in a soccer stadium in Carson, but they’re complete afterthoughts nationally. They have to drive by billboards touting the Rams and the press has all but anointed them Super Bowl champions. Even in their own division the Chiefs are running away with the AFC West… if you listen to pundits.

Yet when it comes to championship competition like the NFL playoffs, keep your eye on the team that feels they have something to prove. The Chargers are 6-2 with their only losses coming to the Chiefs and Rams. They have a rubber match with Kansas City in 5 weeks where AFC home field advantage could be at stake.

The Rams?? Well… keep in mind the Chargers are to be tennants in their stadium being built in Hollywood Park. It’s been more than difficult for this team to gain traction in Los Angeles where they’re not wanted. What better way for Coach Anthony Lynn’s bunch to get back at all that ails them then to go to Atlanta and pound LA’s favorite team in Super Bowl LIII?? You know… that team that abandoned L.A. back in 1980 for the friendly confines of Anaheim.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves here but talk about some juicy plot-lines… and do not sleep on these Chargers.

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