Of the two championship matchups this weekend, this AFC championship is the one I’m most looking forward to watch. In one corner, you have the high-flying speed demon Chiefs offense, led by one of the most polarizing athletes not just in football, but in all of sports in Patrick Mahomes. In the other corner, you have a Tennessee Titans team straight out of the 1960s, with the bruising locomotive of a running back that is Derrick Henry as the centerpiece of the offense.
This is also a unique AFC championship in the fact that this will be just the third time since 2001 that two AFC teams other than New England or Pittsburgh have been represented in the AFC Championship game. While we probably won’t see a repeat of last week at Arrowhead when the Chiefs and Texans combined to score 82 points, this still shapes up to be a very competitive game and will be very fun to watch. Will Tennessee ride their magical playoff run all the way to the Super Bowl, or will Patrick Mahomes earn his first ever Super Bowl appearance? Let’s find out.
Matchup: TEN (9-7) vs. KC (12-4), 3:05pm ET, CBS
(Odds as of Saturday at 2:30 pm ET. Lines subject to change.)
Spread: KC -7.5
This game will be played in a very cold Arrowhead Stadium, with the temperature forecast to be in the 20s all game with 10-15 mph wind gusts expected as well. Unsurprisingly, the public has reacted strongly to last week’s track meet of a game that saw the Chiefs go on a 51-7 run after Houston was able to get an early lead. This has caused the total to actually rise to 53 from when it opened at 50. This has all the signs of a market-inflated over, thanks to recency bias which points to the under having value here.
The Angle to Take: Under 53
While it is quite difficult to limit the explosive Chiefs offense, the one way Tennessee can do it is by running it, running it, and running it some more. Not only does it keep Mahomes and Co. off the field for longer stretches and shortens the game, it’s also the weakest part of the suddenly upstart Kansas City defense. This shapes up to be a heavyweight battle between these two teams, with passing offense likely limited thanks to mother nature. If this turns into a battle in the trenches, Tennessee will have the upper hand.
The Second Angle to Take: TEN +7.5 or better
Derrick Henry and the Titans offensive line have had the upper hand in the trenches in each playoff game they’ve won, and this one will be no different. Tennessee’s road-grading offensive line will be able to have success against Kansas City’s weakest part of their defense, their run defense. While expecting Derrick Henry to rush for more than 150 yards each game does seem outlandish, it has a fairly strong chance of happening again.
The Titans have given Henry as much work as he can handle these last two games, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit the 30 carry mark again. While he does take a little bit to get going, he comes alive in the second half of games and absolutely bullies opposing defenses until he’s able to break off a long run and take it all the way to the house. If Henry gets going in this game, Tennessee has a strong chance to pull off the upset win.
Honorable Mention: TEN +276 ML
Tennessee continues to be doubted by just about everyone, or at least everyone in Vegas. They’ve been underdogs by five points or more in each of their playoff victories, and they have continued to prove everyone wrong and show that they are absolutely on fire right now. Getting close to +300 odds for this surging Titans team seems too good to pass up. Especially when you consider Andy Reid has a 1-8 career record against Tennessee.
Picture Source: Kshb.com
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