Preview: NFL Conference Championships
Tennessee Titans @ Kansas City Chiefs | Kick Off: 8:05pm
The Kansas City Chiefs and the Tennessee Titans face off in the AFC Championship game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. It’s a big game for both teams, with the Chiefs working to get past the title-game hurdle, and the Titans aiming for their first Super Bowl since 1999.
Let’s start with the Titans. This is the first time they’ve returned to the AFC Championship since the 2002 season. However, this team is much different to how it was almost 20 years ago. Two individuals have played a pivotal role in this so far – Derrick Henry, running behind a strong offensive line, has controlled the ground game no matter which team the Titans have faced, and Coach Mike Vrabel will be calming the nerves of his players using his own experience as a player having been to the AFC Championship before.
Now let’s take a look at the Chiefs. They clawed their way back in the AFC Championship last season against the New England Patriots, where at one point they were winning by four points, but the game went to overtime, the Patriots got a touchdown to win and game and went on to win Super Bowl 53. But this season, Kansas has been a different team. Ok, so Patrick Mahomes didn’t throw 50 touchdown passes but I think it’s safe to say he showed in the AFC Divisional Round game that he’s still as dangerous as ever. At just 24 years old, this is his third season with the Chiefs, and his second AFC Championship game. This is the start of a brilliant legacy, and after promising he’d bring the team back to the Championship at the end of last season, he’s done just that.
Many are calling this the ‘Chiefs revenge game’ from when the two teams met in the playoffs during the 2017 season where Titans got the better of Chiefs with a 22-21 win. Kansas were up 21-3 at halftime but the Tennessee defense tightened up and scored 19 unanswered points behind Henry and Marcus Mariota, the later catching his own deflected pass for a spectacular touchdown. You’ll no doubt see this game on everyone’s highlight reel leading up to kick-off.
All in all, the game will come down to which defense has a better outing against an elite playmaker—all eyes on Mahomes and Henry.
Green Bay Packers @ San Francisco 49ers | Kick Off: 11:40pm
The San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers face off in the NFC Championship game at the Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California where both teams are trying to make it back to the Super Bowl for the first time in several years.
Let’s not forget the two teams already met during the regular season, and the 49ers took a massive home win of 37-8. Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers was sacked five times and only threw for 104 yards whereas Jimmy Garoppolo had 253 passing yards and two touchdown passes in the win.
This game will be Garoppolo’s first NFC title game appearance since taking over as the team’s starting quarterback. His lack of experience in the playoffs certainly didn’t deter his performance against the Minnesota Vikings in the divisional round.
For Rodgers however, this is his third NFC title game. He has only made the Super Bowl once; having lost in the conference title game the last two times he’s appeared in one. But he showed his composure against the Seattle Seahawks in the divisional round and had the game-sealing pass in the fourth quarter to Jimmy Graham.
This is also the first time both 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan, and Packers coach Matt LaFleur are making the conference title game as head coaches. Whilst this is LaFleur’s first season, it’s Shanahan’s third but he hasn’t had a winning record before the 2019 season, so I’m intrigued to see how each coach copes with the pressure.
Both teams have an incredible history. The 49ers have won five Super Bowls while the Packers have won four. They’ve played against one another seven times in the playoffs, and Green Bay have won four of these. The most recent playoff game between the two teams was in 2014 which saw the 49ers get the best of Green Bay with a 23-20 win.
Could we see a repeat of the game from earlier this season and 49ers advance to the Super Bowl?
Where can you watch this years NFL conference playoffs?
Super Bowl 54 is televised live on Sky Sports but you can enjoy the ultimate experience in a We Love Sport venue by downloading the We Love Sport app to find your local pub or bar televising the action.
About the author
Liz Bhandari is the founder of NFLGirlUK.com, a blog that brings you closer to the game you love. She also hosts a podcast available on Apple and other channels called ‘NFLGirlUK meets’ which includes interviews from players, legends, and personalities on life in the NFL.