2020 AFC/NFC Championship Games Thread

Ale Xander

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Will we see a rematch of Super Bowl I two weeks down the line?

Sunday, January 19

3:05 AFC Championship, Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs, CBS

6:40 NFC Championship, Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers, FOX
 
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Buck Showalter

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Will we see a rematch of Super Bowl I two weeks down the line?

3:05 AFC Championship, Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs

6:40 NFC Championship, Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers
For optics and old-school logos --- KC vs. GB would be fun.

But I'm rooting for this 'Vrabel-train' to keep rolling.....despite the underdog status in this one.
 

InstaFace

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Give me GB over SF having a chance to match us in franchise titles.

In the AFC, give me a Tyreek Hill injury, a Derrick Henry carry where three NFL defenders are draped all over him and he still makes forward progress, and a game that comes down to the final possession. If Reid wins, great. If Reid loses due to clock mismanagement and/or being outcoached, not great, but hilarious.

In all cases, give me no officiating controversies. God is that all exhausting and futile to be annoyed by.
 

Kenny F'ing Powers

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I wouldn't he able to handle the Aaron Rodgers splooge fest. 49ers, please.
 
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BaseballJones

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Tennessee-KC is going to be a super interesting matchup.

Ten offense vs KC defense
Tennessee's got the #1 RB in football, and the #3 overall rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 139 yards a game, and 5.0 yards a carry. In the playoffs, Henry has just obliterated two excellent defenses in NE and Baltimore, and the Titans have rushed for 201 and 217 yards in their two playoff games (5.4 yards per carry). KC, meanwhile, has an improved rush defense from last year, but they were still #26 in rush yards allowed per game (128.2) and they allowed 4.9 yards per carry. In other words, Tennessee has a very very good chance of absolutely destroying KC on the ground.

Tannehill has not been good, outside of a few excellent throws, in the playoffs so far. His stats are minuscule, but they haven't needed him to be great. That said, he was awesome the second half of the season so if he needs to air it out, he's capable. The problem is that KC's pass defense is very good. #5 in the NFL in opposing QB passer rating (80.8), they allow only 60.5% completions.

In the red zone, Tennessee has been ridiculous, going 5-5 in the playoffs (5 RZ attempts, 5 TD) and were at greater than 80% success rate (TDs) in the RZ under Tannehill. It's unsustainable except that...they've sustained it. That's going to be a problem for KC. Tennessee simply does a phenomenal job finishing off drives.

KC offense vs Ten defense
Well, this is going to be a problem for Tennessee even though their pass defense has been pretty good. The Titans have a good secondary, but Mahomes and the KC offense can be absolutely ridiculous at times, as the Texans found out last week. Down 24-0, the Chiefs scored touchdowns on 7 straight possessions. Absurd. That game went from being a humiliating defeat for KC to a Chiefs blowout win in the blink of an eye. Like no other team we've seen over the years, the Chiefs have the ability to just explode. And time of possession doesn't even matter to the Chiefs, because they can score so damned quickly.

Here were KC's seven TD drives:
- 2 plays, 42 yards, 0:59
- 3 plays, 33 yards, 0:23
- 3 plays, 6 yards, 1:25

Ok, so at this point we are talking about three really short fields to work with, as Hou kind of imploded. But still...KC took full advantage of unbelievably great field position. But then the game got back to "normal" and here were their next four TD drives:
- 8 plays, 90 yards, 2:03
- 7 plays, 95 yards, 3:36
- 6 plays, 77 yards, 3:55
- 4 plays, 72 yards, 1:32

And then throw in a 7 play, 52 yard drive for a FG that took only 3:31 on their next possession. So 8 straight scoring drives. They covered a total of 467 yards in just 33 plays (14.2 yards per play!) and 17 min, 24 seconds (just 2.2 seconds per yard gained). I mean that's just absolutely frigging insane.

So the Titans could control the clock for 40 minutes and it might not matter.

They played once this year already, a 35-32 Titans win in KC. In that game, the Titans ran for 225 yards (8.7 yards per carry) as Henry had 188 (8.2 ypc) and 2 TDs. Mahomes threw for 446 yards and 3 scores, and KC racked up 530 yards of total offense.

In many ways, that's exactly how this game could play out as well. Tennessee pounding them on the ground, Henry being unstoppable, but Mahomes countering with lightning strikes that the Titans simply can't deal with. Should be a fun matchup of contrasting styles (about as contrasting as it gets actually), and either team has a legit shot at winning, I think. KC should be favored, but Tennessee has proven they have the goods, knocking off both NE and Baltimore on the road. If they beat KC, personally I think it would be the most incredible run to the SB ever, a #6 seed going on the road to knock off the top 3 teams in the conference in succession (well, #3, #1, then #2). It would be absolutely amazing to see them do it. If I was betting straight up, I'd still pick KC, but I wouldn't at all be surprised to see the Titans win.
 

JCizzle

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Nice write-up Jones, thanks for posting that. I'd be interested in your NFCCG take if you have time/thoughts on that as well.
 

BaseballJones

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Ask and ye shall receive, @JCizzle ...

GB offense vs SF defense
Aaron Rodgers is no longer AARON RODGERS. From 2009-2016, he was insanely good, averaging a 106.0 passer rating. But the last few years he's seen a marked decline. This year was his second worst year as a passer since the first year he was a starter, way back in 2008. He completed just 60.2% of his passes and finished with a 95.4 rating. He can still get it done though, as we saw last week with that enormous (and gorgeous) pass to Devante Adams on the key third down at the end of the game. Still a world of talent, but not the player he once was (where have we seen THAT?).

But he has help this year at RB in Aaron Jones, who was tremendous. 4.6 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns on the ground really really help the Packers' offense. He added 49 receptions for 474 yards and 3 scores, so he's a true three-down dual threat RB. Probably more than anyone else on the team, he's the key for Green Bay. Outside of Adams, GB's receivers shouldn't put fear into SF's secondary. Jimmy Graham can still play but he's no longer a dominant receiver either. Green Bay was #18 in the NFL in yards gained, so their offense, while capable at times, isn't an enormous threat.

They do a good job taking care of the football, however, only committing 13 turnovers all season (9 fumbles, 4 interceptions). So they're not likely to beat themselves. You've got to actually stop them. Once they get into the red zone, forget it. They're #2 in the NFL this year in RZ TD% (behind Tennessee) at 66%. SF's defense, as good as it was this year (#8 points, #2 yards), was just 20th in the NFL in red zone defense, so if GB gets close, they're most likely going to score. SF needs to keep them out of the red area.

SF really gets after the QB and doesn't need to blitz to get there (5th in the NFL in sacks). Their defensive line is terrific and GB is going to have problems with Nick Bosa. SF gets pressure on 28.7% of opposing pass plays, the second-best mark in the NFL. Green Bay is 10th in the league in allowing the least amount of pressure, so this could be a good matchup between GB's pass protection and SF's pass rush.

SF offense vs GB defense
The Niners were lauded for their defense this year but really, their offense was better. They were #2 in the NFL in scoring, and #4 in yards gained. They have three terrific running backs, outstanding offensive line, and the best blocking TE in all of football in Kittle. Green Bay's rush defense was poor this year, ranked #23 in the league, allowing 120 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. SF should be able to beat them up on the ground, which will open things up for SF's passing attack, led by Garoppolo.

JG was really good this year - 69.1% completions, 27 touchdowns, 102.0 passer rating - and he has excellent targets to throw to. Kittle is an outstanding receiver at TE, and they have Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne on the outside. In addition, the three main running backs (Coleman, Mostert, and Breida) have 54 receptions for 480 yards this year (8.9 avg) so when SF decides to throw, JG has a plethora of options available.

The good news for GB is that they have a really solid pass defense, holding opposing QBs to just 59.7% completions and an 81.1 passer rating. They also were #3 in the NFL in interceptions (with 17), which could be problematic for SF, as Garoppolo threw 13 picks, which in today's game is a high number. He finished tied for 8th most interceptions thrown this year. That's where GB could make a little hay, if they get an interception or two.

These two teams played earlier in the year and it was a bloodbath. SF dominated in every way imaginable, beating the Packers 37-8, and outgaining them 339-198. The Packers' defense was actually pretty decent that day, but the Niners' defense completely suffocated Rodgers and GB, sacking him 5 times and holding him to just 104 passing yards (on 33 attempts, 3.2 yards per attempt).

SF is clearly the better team, and they're at home. Rodgers is still good enough to make plays, and the Packers' interception-happy secondary could steal one or two from Garoppolo, and if they do, this could be a game. But the smart money says that SF will dominate at home and probably should win handily. If they take care of the football, they should be fine. I'd expect a double-digit win for the 49ers, or maybe a comfortable lead and GB scoring late to keep the final score closer, even if the game isn't truly that close.
 

Maximus

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Ask and ye shall receive, @JCizzle ...

GB offense vs SF defense
Aaron Rodgers is no longer AARON RODGERS. From 2009-2016, he was insanely good, averaging a 106.0 passer rating. But the last few years he's seen a marked decline. This year was his second worst year as a passer since the first year he was a starter, way back in 2008. He completed just 60.2% of his passes and finished with a 95.4 rating. He can still get it done though, as we saw last week with that enormous (and gorgeous) pass to Devante Adams on the key third down at the end of the game. Still a world of talent, but not the player he once was (where have we seen THAT?).

But he has help this year at RB in Aaron Jones, who was tremendous. 4.6 yards per carry and 16 touchdowns on the ground really really help the Packers' offense. He added 49 receptions for 474 yards and 3 scores, so he's a true three-down dual threat RB. Probably more than anyone else on the team, he's the key for Green Bay. Outside of Adams, GB's receivers shouldn't put fear into SF's secondary. Jimmy Graham can still play but he's no longer a dominant receiver either. Green Bay was #18 in the NFL in yards gained, so their offense, while capable at times, isn't an enormous threat.

They do a good job taking care of the football, however, only committing 13 turnovers all season (9 fumbles, 4 interceptions). So they're not likely to beat themselves. You've got to actually stop them. Once they get into the red zone, forget it. They're #2 in the NFL this year in RZ TD% (behind Tennessee) at 66%. SF's defense, as good as it was this year (#8 points, #2 yards), was just 20th in the NFL in red zone defense, so if GB gets close, they're most likely going to score. SF needs to keep them out of the red area.

SF really gets after the QB and doesn't need to blitz to get there (5th in the NFL in sacks). Their defensive line is terrific and GB is going to have problems with Nick Bosa. SF gets pressure on 28.7% of opposing pass plays, the second-best mark in the NFL. Green Bay is 10th in the league in allowing the least amount of pressure, so this could be a good matchup between GB's pass protection and SF's pass rush.

SF offense vs GB defense
The Niners were lauded for their defense this year but really, their offense was better. They were #2 in the NFL in scoring, and #4 in yards gained. They have three terrific running backs, outstanding offensive line, and the best blocking TE in all of football in Kittle. Green Bay's rush defense was poor this year, ranked #23 in the league, allowing 120 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. SF should be able to beat them up on the ground, which will open things up for SF's passing attack, led by Garoppolo.

JG was really good this year - 69.1% completions, 27 touchdowns, 102.0 passer rating - and he has excellent targets to throw to. Kittle is an outstanding receiver at TE, and they have Emmanuel Sanders, Deebo Samuel, and Kendrick Bourne on the outside. In addition, the three main running backs (Coleman, Mostert, and Breida) have 54 receptions for 480 yards this year (8.9 avg) so when SF decides to throw, JG has a plethora of options available.

The good news for GB is that they have a really solid pass defense, holding opposing QBs to just 59.7% completions and an 81.1 passer rating. They also were #3 in the NFL in interceptions (with 17), which could be problematic for SF, as Garoppolo threw 13 picks, which in today's game is a high number. He finished tied for 8th most interceptions thrown this year. That's where GB could make a little hay, if they get an interception or two.

These two teams played earlier in the year and it was a bloodbath. SF dominated in every way imaginable, beating the Packers 37-8, and outgaining them 339-198. The Packers' defense was actually pretty decent that day, but the Niners' defense completely suffocated Rodgers and GB, sacking him 5 times and holding him to just 104 passing yards (on 33 attempts, 3.2 yards per attempt).

SF is clearly the better team, and they're at home. Rodgers is still good enough to make plays, and the Packers' interception-happy secondary could steal one or two from Garoppolo, and if they do, this could be a game. But the smart money says that SF will dominate at home and probably should win handily. If they take care of the football, they should be fine. I'd expect a double-digit win for the 49ers, or maybe a comfortable lead and GB scoring late to keep the final score closer, even if the game isn't truly that close.
Nice summary Jones, thank you. Niners fan from the early 80's Montana days prior to the Pats being relevant. Hoping for a Niners / Titans SB. I like Mahomes but loathe Kelce, Hill & Suggs.
 

JCizzle

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Nice summary Jones, thank you. Niners fan from the early 80's Montana days prior to the Pats being relevant. Hoping for a Niners / Titans SB. I like Mahomes but loathe Kelce, Hill & Suggs.
Same thoughts here, thanks for sharing!
 

BusRaker

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Hoping for Vrabel to lose his manhood against Jimmy G and Gronk Jr (Kittle). Mahomes and Rodgers tears would taste especially salty this time of year
 

SemperFidelisSox

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KC had 11 offensive possessions against Houston (12 if you count the final kneel downs). I don’t think they come close to having that many vs Tennessee. Maybe more in the 8-9 range. The Titans will dominate time of possession, so Mahomes and KC are going to have to make every possession count.
 
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KC had 11 offensive possessions against Houston (12 if you count the final kneel downs). I don’t think they come close to having that many vs Tennessee. Maybe more in the 8-9 range. The Titans will dominate time of possession, so Mahomes and KC are going to have to make every possession count.
I like this and think it's very insightful. When playing a team that can reduce possessions their margin for error decreases drastically - drops, missed no look passes, special teams, etc, further compounded by a team that can play takeaway while also making points. It's easy to overlook wasted possessions until each one matters - think 2019 AFCG (shameless plug - I was there, yay me)

Someone else said it and I agree; I like Mahomes and really love Reid, but the rest of the Chiefs (and most of their fans) can get rekt and deserve to imo.
 

Van Everyman

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Man, the utter bedlam that will ensue if Jimmy G makes the SB (on the basis of his running game and D) around these parts is gonna be something to behold. Felger and Mazz may want to consider another platform that can house all the content they’re gonna provide.
 

InstaFace

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Man, the utter bedlam that will ensue if Jimmy G makes the SB (on the basis of his running game and D) around these parts is gonna be something to behold. Felger and Mazz may want to consider another platform that can house all the content they’re gonna provide.
Bedlam? I dunno. He hasn't been on the team in 2.5 years. I think most people here kinda vaguely wish him well.
 

Van Everyman

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Bedlam? I dunno. He hasn't been on the team in 2.5 years. I think most people here kinda vaguely wish him well.
"Here" is not the media and sports radio, which is already in haughty "Brady is declining and selfish"/"Belichick is so arrogant he thinks he can win without good players"/"Kraft is a sanctimonious cheapskate" mode.

We're all a little distracted by Cora/Astros right now, but I am confident there will be no shortage of irrational "Should'a kept Jimmy" takes if they knock off the Packers -- despite A) Jimmy being, like, the 4th or 5th reason the Niners are in the NFCCG and B) Plenty of evidence that Brady is *still* better than Jimmy three seasons later/older.
 

BaseballJones

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If Jimmy G can keep the Packers from the SB I'll be very happy for him and for me, as I have an irrational hatred for the Packers.
On the one hand, if Rodgers makes the SB (and god forbid wins it), we will suddenly be back in the "Is Rodgers or Brady the GOAT" conversation, as stupid as that is. Because, well......just because people will go there and it will irritate the hell out of us. (well, out of ME anyway; I can only speak for myself)

On the other hand, if JG makes the SB (and god forbid wins it), we will be back revisiting the JG trade and whether the Pats were stupid for dealing him and omg how they must wish now that they'd have kept him and let Brady go and blah blah fricking blah.

So....

Go Titans.
 

Al Zarilla

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Man, the utter bedlam that will ensue if Jimmy G makes the SB (on the basis of his running game and D) around these parts is gonna be something to behold. Felger and Mazz may want to consider another platform that can house all the content they’re gonna provide.
The narrative about John Lynch when he took over as GM of the 9ers was that he was going to concentrate on D, D and more D, and then move to the OL and running game. Quarterback later, and he was pursuing Kirk Cousins until Jimmy became available (his priority could possibly be because the one super bowl winner he played for had a strong D and Brad Johnson at QB). So, the plan came together very well for them. As for New England, they went to 2 SBs since Jimmy left and won one. If anybody in New England is upset about that tale if two cities, they can get boiled in entitlement broth.
 

johnmd20

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On the one hand, if Rodgers makes the SB (and god forbid wins it), we will suddenly be back in the "Is Rodgers or Brady the GOAT" conversation, as stupid as that is. Because, well......just because people will go there and it will irritate the hell out of us. (well, out of ME anyway; I can only speak for myself)

On the other hand, if JG makes the SB (and god forbid wins it), we will be back revisiting the JG trade and whether the Pats were stupid for dealing him and omg how they must wish now that they'd have kept him and let Brady go and blah blah fricking blah.

So....

Go Titans.
Rodgers has had a terrible last 4 years. That conversation isn't coming back. Rodgers is an incredible talent. But he's not Brady. Heck, he's not even Brees.
 

BaseballJones

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Rodgers has had a terrible last 4 years. That conversation isn't coming back. Rodgers is an incredible talent. But he's not Brady. Heck, he's not even Brees.
It may not come back for you and me but it’s already being talked about. So if Rodgers wins the SB, buckle up, as dumb as that may be.
 

Marciano490

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It may not come back for you and me but it’s already being talked about. So if Rodgers wins the SB, buckle up, as dumb as that may be.
He didn’t even make top ten a couple months ago when his team was still winning the division and nobody cared but him. Winning a few more games isn’t going to vault him over Brady. Maybe they’ll swap him for Elway in 50 years.
 

E5 Yaz

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Maybe. I was listening to sports radio the other day and the topic was discussed for like 20 minutes. I didn’t seek it out.
It's amazing how much aggravation could be allayed by simply not listening to sports radio
 

SemperFidelisSox

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One Super Bowl and four conference championship game appearances puts Rodgers on the cusp of Brady’s level? That hot take is even beneath talk radio. A Super Bowl only really effects Rodger’s legacy with Green Bay, and maybe puts him ahead of Favre and Starr. Other than that, he just joins the 2X Super Bowl club with Eli, Roethlisberger and those others. He’s not the G.O.A.T and he’s not even living on the same block as Brady, even with a SB win. The end.
 

snowmanny

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One Super Bowl and four conference championship game appearances puts Rodgers on the cusp of Brady’s level? That hot take is even beneath talk radio. A Super Bowl only really effects Rodger’s legacy with Green Bay, and maybe puts him ahead of Favre and Starr. Other than that, he just joins the 2X Super Bowl club with Eli, Roethlisberger and those others. He’s not the G.O.A.T and he’s not even living on the same block as Brady, even with a SB win. The end.

The argument for anyone else is whether they top Peyton. Once they clearly win that argument then move on to Brady. Rodgers needs another title and probably another conference championship on top of that to be in the Peyton discussion.
 

Marciano490

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Rodgers has a combined 51 TD passes over the last two years and has had a passer rating over 98 once since 2015. He’s not going from Top 15ish all time to Number 1 unless he finds some good drugs and great receivers.
 

Ferm Sheller

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I can’t shake the feeling that there’s a possibility that Belichick and Brady manage to figure out a way to get the Pats into the Super Bowl this year. Until it’s been played, I’d never bet against those guys.
 

johnmd20

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For the first time in ten years, I don't have much of a reason to put on my Brady jersey for Championship Weekend. That fact is depressing, but it's also kind of amazing that it's been 10 years since the Pats have not played on this day. More than kind of amazing. Historic.

Now that Baltimore is gone, (hallelujah) I don't really have a rooting interest, but I wouldn't be against Rodgers making the Super Bowl versus Mahomes. That would be a pretty good story. That said, the Packers are not good and SF will likely kill them. GB barely scraped by a Seattle team that was held together with duct tape. SF is an impressive team with a lightning quick defense. GB might get blown out of the building.

Regarding the KC Tennessee game, I don't really have a rooting interest or a feeling. Feels like the easy thing is to look at what Henry has done and take the points. But the easy thing is usually the wrong one. Gun to my head, still, I would take the points. Henry is doing something that has never been done before. I wouldn't mind seeing it continue.

Plus, if Tennessee wins, Vrabel's penis will get even more coverage. And as a story it's ridiculous, but also funny.
 

johnmd20

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Gonna be 5-10 degrees today and tonight in KC. Henry could just beat KC's defense into painful submission.
 

Soxy Brown

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The last season in which the Pats weren't playing on championship weekend, Sam Bradford was Offensive ROY, Michael Vick was Comeback Player of the Year, Arian Foster was the NFL's leading rusher, and Roddy White was the leading receiver. None of those guys are in the league anymore.

It's been a while.
 

johnmd20

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The Chiefs haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1969. I think I knew that, but I didn't know that. Wow, 50 years and blanked.

I don't know, that's a lot of history to overcome. Andy Reid is going to choke.
 

54thMA

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The Chiefs haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1969. I think I knew that, but I didn't know that. Wow, 50 years and blanked.

I don't know, that's a lot of history to overcome. Andy Reid is going to choke.
Or put another way, there is not a Chiefs fan younger than me who can honestly claim they vividly remember the last time they were in the Super Bowl (I'm 59).

They have a long and storied history of coming up small when it matters most.

I hope that trend continues.

Not a fan of the tomahawk chop, Mahomes and his incessant pointing, Kelce and his histrionics after every catch, that coconut headed ballbag Sorensen, that arm breaker Hill or them continually committing OPI and getting away with it, ie, those pic plays they run all game long.

And the Reid choke factor at home in the championship game is always in play, like in 2003, 2004 and last year.