Last week, it would have been a miracle for anyone to predict exactly what took place during the Kansas City Chiefs’ 51-31 victory over the Houston Texans in the Divisional round of the AFC playoffs. Almost all of the Arrowhead Pride writers picked the Chiefs to win decisively, but only one predicted a point spread greater than 18. All but one thought the Texans would score between 20 and 28 points — but it’s likely no one thought 24 of those points would be scored in the first 19 minutes of the game! Our readers were a bit less confident in the Chiefs than usual. 91% believed the Chiefs would win, but 60% thought it would be a close game.
Let’s see what everyone thinks about the AFC Championship game on Sunday.
Tom Childs (@tomchilds56)
WE’RE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!
Chiefs 51, Titans 31
John Dixon (@Arrowheadphones)
Before the Divisonal round game, I said the Texans’ main chance to win would be to force (and capitalize upon) Kansas City mistakes — something that is true for all overachieving playoff teams. So like the Texans, expect the Titans to come out swinging — calling trick plays and doing their best to force turnovers. They have nothing to lose — and the Texans almost got away with it. Against any other team, they probably would have. I also believe it’s a mistake to worry so much about Titans running back Derrick Henry. As the saying goes, he is likely to “get his.” But unless he does so with four touchdown runs of 50 yards or more, it’s not going to matter much. The Chiefs will need to do their best to limit him. But it will be far more important for the Chiefs offense to be on track from the opening whistle. If they can do that — forcing the Texans into playing from behind early in the game — Henry isn’t likely to be a factor. All due credit to Henry: he is incredible. But this isn’t 1977. Henry is a knife. This will be a gun fight. Chiefs 34, Titans 20
Ethan Douglas (@ChiefsAnalytics)
For last week’s game, I acknowledged that while surprising things happen, the Chiefs are too good to lose — and Mahomes was going to drop 300 or more passing yards and five passing touchdowns. Well... unless something happened I don’t know about, Mahomes is still the Chiefs’ quarterback. I don’t care about Derrick Henry. I don’t care about the Titans’ passing defense (Okay, I care a little). While I don’t believe the Chiefs can spot the Titans 14 points and still win, I don’t think they’ll need to. Andy Reid knows what’s on the line, and he won’t be pulling any punches. He certainly won’t be kicking three field goals on fourth and short. The Chiefs take an early lead and never look back, the Titans’ red zone offense regresses, Henry rumbles for six yards a carry — and it won’t matter. Chiefs 35, Titans 21
Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp)
Everything has fallen into place. The Chiefs earned a bye-week after a miraculous Patriots loss — and now they are hosting the AFC Championship after the Titans upset the one-seeded Ravens. This team is destined to make it to their first Super Bowl in 50 years — but that’s not why they will win. Instead, they’ll win because they’re the better team. In the Divisional round, the Chiefs offense played as well as it has all season. The team will ride that momentum into a matchup against a defense they shredded in Week 10. The Chiefs defense will be itching to prove that their ugly performance against Tennessee in November was a fluke. Henry should terrify Chiefs fans, but he can be rendered ineffective with good, clean execution from the Chiefs offense. If they can eliminate turnovers, drops and penalties — which plagued them in the Week 10 game — they should have full control of this game. Mahomes turns in another MVP performance and the defense steps up with a crucial turnover in the second half to seal the team’s first-ever AFC title. Chiefs 37 Titans 27
Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina)
Don’t call it a rematch. Just like last Sunday’s game against the Texans, both of these teams are entirely different than the last time they played. The Titans defense is playing at a lights- out level, with a very surgical approach to the different offenses they have been playing. Meanwhile, the Chiefs offense looks to be clicking at a historic level again. When the Titans have the ball, the Chiefs have to decide if they need to stop Derrick Henry or Ryan Tannehill. There are arguments for either approach — but if the Chiefs can make the Titans throw the ball 25-30 times, their odds of winning drastically improve. Game flow often dictates that decision — but so does putting the Titans behind the sticks and forcing Tannehill to beat you, while you play the pass and avoid getting free shot after free shot on play-action. When the Chiefs have the ball, the first few drives will be paramount in determining how the Titans will play them — but I would expect them to play a lot of man coverage. As long as the protection holds up, the Chiefs simply have to continue making the Titans bracket Tyreek Hill — making them pay when they don’t — and then finding the isolated matchups with Sammy Watkins or Travis Kelce when the help is occupied. The Titans have been playing well but this is the Chiefs’ time. The Chiefs are clicking — and they are coming into this game to score points. The Titans just don’t have kind of firepower. Chiefs 38, Titans 27
Matt Stagner (@stagdsp)
What we’re watching is unprecedented — unless you count the 2015 Kansas City Royals as a precedent. Last year, the Chiefs came close. That near-miss — and the other adversity they have faced — forged a stronger team. The offseason changes have paid dividends both in performance and attitude. There’s no situation they can’t handle — especially after last Sunday’s game. They’ve won games in every fashion — with smothering defense, big offensive plays and special teams; they’ve built big leads — and come from behind, too. Past curses are broken. The softness that plagued previous teams is no more; the mindset and swagger of the team is that of a champion. I expect the offense to roll and the defense to make enough plays to get off the field. This is a good opponent, but Mahomes, Clark, Mathieu, Hill, Kelce and Williams will be relentless. Chiefs 45, Titans 28
Craig Stout (@barleyhop)
So much focus has been put on Derrick Henry and the Titans play-action passing game that the matchup on the other side of the ball has almost been forgotten. Henry will put up yardage — and may punch in a couple of touchdowns — but keeping pace with the opposing offense will force the Titans away from using a heavy dose of Henry against the Chiefs. Patrick Mahomes and his offense will execute better than they did to start the Divisional round; Andy Reid’s first 15 plays will be sharp. The Titans defense is better than Houston’s, but they still won’t enough to keep Mahomes and company out of the end zone. The Titans will have turn to the passing game — and Steve Spagnuolo will ratchet up the pressure to make Ryan Tannehill uncomfortable. Good coverage and pressure will keep Tennessee at arm’s length for the entire second half. Chiefs 35, Titans 24
Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson)
Being down 24-0 in a game, taking a lead by halftime and never looking back is a sign of a team that has the kind of character to fight hard for 60 minutes — a sentiment the players have echoed all week. Tennessee is not sneaking up on anyone. The Chiefs have faced real adversity — and if they want to win a Super Bowl, they will continue to do so. Chiefs fans are rightfully preparing themselves for the most challenging path to victory: stopping Derrick Henry in a slower game that limits possessions. But it doesn’t have to be like that. If the offense can replicate most of the efficiency (and urgency) they displayed last Sunday, the game will change drastically. This team is experienced. This team has dealt with the pain of falling. This team is ready for the fight. This team has Patrick Lavon Mahomes. Chiefs 33, Titans 20
Pete Sweeney (@pgsween)
My prediction is simple.
It is 2020. A team whose best player is a running back is not coming into Arrowhead Stadium and beating a team whose best player is a quarterback with the best two-season start in NFL history.
No more curses. The Chiefs head to their first Super Bowl in 50 years. Chiefs 36, Titans 22
Which team wins the AFC Championship?
This poll is closed
Chiefs in a blowout
Chiefs in a close game
Titans in a close game
Titans in a blowout
Ties in the standings are broken with prediction points error — how much each prediction misses the actual point spread and the number of points scored by each team.
As a group, the AP writers predicted a 32.8-20.4 Chiefs victory over the Texans. With 36.4 points of error, our composite prediction was the worst for any Chiefs victory this season.
Ethan Douglas had the most accurate prediction. His 42-28 pick had 18 points of error. Ron Kopp, Jr. was right behind with 20 points of error in his 41-24 prediction. Only Kent Swanson thought the Chiefs would win by 20 or more, but his 42-20 prediction was 22 points off.