Finally we have arrived at Championship Weekend, the NFL’s version of the Final Four if you will. We have two great matchups to look forward to and best of all no New England Patriots in sight!
So how did your picks go last week? I went 3-1, missing the Titans massive upset of the Ravens. I figured the Ravens were going to be rusty after the long layoff, I just assumed they would have shown up before the Titans ran away with the game. Nope. The Titans are the feel-good story of the playoffs this year and it was good to see them win.
The Texans put my New and Improved Super Bowl pick in serious jeopardy. Patrick Mahomes was having none of that though and put up a great game’s worth of stats in the second quarter alone. What a comeback.
The Niners handled business easily at home. The Vikings looked like they were out of gas early in the game and San Fran used the running game to steamroll them. The Packers held on to win against the Seahawks on the frozen tundra of Lambeau field. Maybe if Pete Carroll realized Seattle has no running game now and unleashed Russell Wilson earlier the result would have been different, but alas it wasn’t so. As I’m sure Malcolm Butler remembers, you can’t rely on Carroll to make the best decisions come playoff time.
OK the Divisional games are over and we head for Championship Weekend. Last year I went 0-2 with my picks. Ouch! Maybe I should put an asterisk next to that 0-2 since the refs shit the bed in that Rams/Saints game. Anyway I went 0-2* for my Championship picks last season, I’m going to try to do better this year.
Tennessee Titans at Kansas City Chiefs (-7.5)
The Titans are on fire. First they traveled to New England and dethroned the defending Super Bowl champs, then they went to Baltimore to defeat the #1 team in the league this season. They didn’t just beat the Ravens, the Titans bullied them all over the field.
The Chiefs haven’t been too shabby lately either, winning seven straight games. They haven’t lost a game since November 10th, when they dropped a 35-32 heartbreaker to the Titans in Tennessee. Titans RB Derrick Henry has been shredding defenses in the playoffs and he did the same that day to the Chiefs, to the tune of 23 carries for 188 yards and 2 TDs.
The Chiefs got off to a slow start against the Texans last week and they can’t afford to do that again against the Titans. If Tennessee jumps out to an early lead, Henry takes over the game and chews up the clock. The potent KC offense would get stuck on the sidelines watching their scoring opportunities dissipate into thin air.
I don’t think that is going to happen. The Chiefs offense should come out firing and force the Titans to throw more to keep up. KC QB Patrick Mahomes threw 50 passes in the first meeting between the two teams, completing 36 for 446 yards and 3 TDs. I see the same thing happening again. A lot of passes from Mahomes to try to score quickly. Titans QB Ryan Tannehill hasn’t been forced to shoulder the load in several weeks, he may or may not be ready to do so on Sunday. I also have to wonder how much gas Derrick Henry has left in the tank, he had 30+ carries in each of the Titans last three games.
My Pick: Chiefs 35 Titans 24
Green Bay Packers at San Francisco 49ers (-7.5)
Both of these teams made their playoff debut last week in the Divisional round. The Niners outmuscled the Vikings with ease while the Packers took out a large lead on the Seahawks and held off a furious comeback to win.
This game is also a rematch, as the Niners pounded the Pack 37-8 in November at San Francisco. The San Fran defense overwhelmed Green Bay. QB Aaron Rodgers was sacked 5 times and held to 104 passing yards, the worst total in his career in a game where he completed at least twenty passes. Sadly most of those yards came in garbage time after the Niners had a large lead.
That beat down might work in the Packers favor this time around. Obviously they know what they can’t do against the Niners defense and will break out an entirely new game plan. Plus San Fran might be feeling a little overconfident after beating Green Bay so bad before.
Rodgers is a veteran QB, he’ll have a better game this time. But will it be enough? The Niners defensive line will keep the pressure on and WR Davante Adams shouldn’t be able to exploit the secondary like he did against Seattle.
I expect the Niners to repeat the game plan they used to dominate the Vikings: pound the defense with their group of talented running backs and let QB Jimmy Garoppolo pick his spots with plenty of play-action passes. Green Bay’s defense is solid, I doubt San Fran will score as many points as last time.
This should be a good, tight game. The Niners will try to control the clock in order to keep Rodgers off the field and Green Bay will probably run the ball more than normal in an effort to protect Rodgers from the pass rush. This one probably goes down to the wire and in the end I expect the San Francisco defense to come up with more stops than the Green Bay defense.
My Pick: 49ers 21 Packers 17
Will the two home teams be victorious to keep my New and Improved Super Bowl Pick alive? Or will I be completely off base like last season? We have to wait until Sunday to find out. Should be a fun pair of games either way.
Let me know your picks in the comments below and if you are fan of one of these four teams I wish you good luck.