Welcome to championship weekend in the NFL.
The National Football League will not crown a champion, per se, this Sunday, but we will celebrate the winners of the NFC and AFC title games.
The Kansas City Chiefs will host the upstart Tennessee Titans on Sunday afternoon, followed by the Green Bay Packers visiting the San Francisco 49ers later that night.
One of the best games within the game will play out at Arrowhead Stadium in K.C. where Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes will try to decode a suddenly stingy Titans defence — which held the top-scoring Baltimore Ravens to just 12 points last week and limited Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots to a mere 10 points.
Mahomes and Co. may be too hot to handle for Tennessee, however, after we saw Kansas City spot the Houston Texans a 24-0 lead last week only to roar back and with that game 51-31.
Bruising Titans running back Derrick Henry is unquestionably going to be the key player in this contest. If he gallops over the Chiefs like he did against Baltimore and New England then K.C. will be in tough. But I expect Mahomes and the Chiefs offence to continue their hot streak and make the Titans rely more on quarterback Ryan Tannehill. Chiefs 34, Titans 20.
If he has any dream of winning a second Super Bowl, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will have to go through San Francisco’s vaunted defence.
The Niners have a menacing front four, led by defensive end Nick Bosa, an active group of linebackers and a super skilled secondary that many teams have not been able to figure out.
Jimmy Garoppolo hasn’t been in this position before, but the 49ers quarterback doesn’t have to win the NFC championship game all by himself — he has plenty of weapons to lean on.
Whether it’s super tight end George Kittle, a diverse set of running backs, or an underrated group of receivers, San Francisco has enough firepower to stay with the Packers.
Much like they did last weekend against the Seattle Seahawks, Rodgers and the Packers offence must find success in the early going — otherwise, they will get smothered.
Both teams are 14-3 (including their playoff win) this season so it’s a tad surprising that San Francisco is favoured to win this game by a touchdown, especially given Green Bay’s offensive stars — Rodgers, running back Aaron Jones and Davante Adams. The old adage, however, is that defence wins championships and San Fran’s unit is a championship-calibre group. 49ers 23, Packers 17.
Should these two scenarios play out it would pit the high-flying Chiefs against the hard-nosed 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.