Everyone loves an underdog and there was a huge fan base rooting for the Tennessee Titans last weekend in the AFC Championship game.
However, it was the Kansas City Chiefs who were victorious and are now the proud owners of the Lamar Hunt Trophy. Since it was named after their founder, and they haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 50 years, it seems fitting that this years high-flying offense and tough defense brought it “back home.”
It wasn’t an easy victory for the Chiefs but being tested hasn’t been a problem for this team all season long.
On Sunday, the 6th seed Tennessee Titans will head to Kansas City to take on the 2nd seed Chiefs for the AFC Championship Game, with a trip to the Super Bowl at stake.
During the season, there were many who imagined the high powered Chiefs making it to this stage, but I don’t remember anyone mentioning the Titans taking a trip to Miami in February.
I’m going to be honest. I think most people outside of the two teams’ fandoms will be thrilled to see either team win. Not just because it will be two young, fun teams playing, but also because it is the first time in a LONG time that the words New England Patriots haven’t been mentioned in an AFC Championship preview.
We are headed into week two of the NFL playoffs. Saturday’s match-up between the Tennessee Titans and the Baltimore Ravens will showcase two different types of offenses.
The Ravens have quarterback Lamar Jackson and his style of offense, which includes his dynamic ability to escape and run out of the pocket. While the Titans have more of a play-action pocket passer in Ryan Tannehill. Either way, both these teams will try to establish a run game. So expect a lot of smash-mouth, in the trenches, football.
The defending Super Bowl Champions started their playoff run with 2 huge questions Saturday night in Foxboro.
First Question: Could the Patriots defense stop the explosive running back Derrick Henry?
Answer: NO. The Patriots defense struggled with Henry all night long. When a running back ends his night with numbers like 182 rushing yards and a touchdown on 34 carries, you can pretty much assume the Titans controlled the line of scrimmage all night. He also added a 22-yard reception to finish with a total of 204 total yards from scrimmage.
With just two more weeks in the season, the AFC South divisional race got a little clearer Sunday. At least it did for the Houston Texans, who came into Nissan Stadium in Nashville trying to inch a little closer to their second straight division title.
The Texans were able to get the upset over the favored Tennessee Titans, 24-21.
Offensively, the Texans found great success behind running back Carlos Hyde, who rushed for 104 yards and a touchdown. Quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has had a history of playing very well against his in divisional rival, did not disappoint going for 243 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
One of the biggest questions surrounding the Houston Texans right now is, what is the team’s identity? We hear this statement every season regarding one team or another. What constitutes a team identity anyway?
I heard it all day following the Texans loss to the Broncos. The analyst said this team is searching for their identity. Ok, well did they have their identity when they beat the Patriots the week before? I always found this phrase more associated with teams that are young and still working on continuity, not teams 15 weeks into the season.
Houston has far bigger problems then hoping to find an “identity”. They are sitting at 8-5 and tied with a red hot Tennessee Titans team right now. A team who have reeled off 4 straight wins in a row behind new quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
When Ryan Tannehill was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first round of the 2012 draft, fans were very excited. Then, after a few years, that excitement started to wear off as most thought Tannehill wasn’t living up to his promise.
Fast forward to 2019 and he is on a new team and playing fantastic football. The questions become; was the problem in Miami Tannehill’s ability, was it coaching, and what does the future hold for him?
Tannehill played for Miami for 7 seasons but missed 2017 due to injury. In that time, his best years came in 2014 and 2015 when he threw for over 4,000 yards a season. He was a consistently average quarterback, dependable, but not the star many thought he could be, leading the team to the playoffs just one time.
This week, I got a chance to talk with Antwan Staley (@antwanstaley) about the AFC South.
It seems the NFL has been plagued with more quarterback issues than usual, and this division definitely has it’s share of those. From Andrew Luck leaving the Colts to the Jaguars going all-in on Nick Foles only to lose him to injury to Marcus Mariota getting benched for Ryan Tannehill, what more could go wrong?
So I figured, who better to ask about what’s going on in the AFC South then my friend Antwan?
Staley is a football writer, an @EastCarolina alumni, a self-proclaimed “Hip Hop historian” and Chicken Wing Connoisseur. He has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. He has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders.
Editors Note: OurTurf Football has had a great, long-time friendship with Russell Baxter and we were honored when he asked a few of our writers to do team season previews for his website, PFG Vibe/ProFootballGuru. OTFB’s Lisa Johnson wrote up her thoughts on the upcoming season for the Miami Dolphins. The article was originally published on Aug 25, 2019, and can be seen here.
The Miami Dolphins fired Head Coach Adam Gase after 3 seasons with the Dolphins. After leading the Dolphins to their first playoff birth since 2008, Gase was fired after the 2018 season, posting a 7-9 record. The Miami Dolphins then moved onto New England Patriots defensive coordinator Brian Flores. Flores served as linebackers coach and defensive play-caller during the 2018 Super Bowl run. On February 4, 2019, Flores was hired as head coach of the Miami Dolphins.
Going into the 2019 NFL season many teams have needs. Some have different needs than others, but no need is more important than that of the quarterback. There are at least 5 teams that are going to need some help at that position.
The Denver Broncos addressed theirs by agreeing in principle for Baltimore Ravens benched QB Joe Flacco. While Flacco won’t be the answer long term for the Broncos, he will at least give them some time to find their franchise quarterback.
Many NFL analysts have ranted that this 2019 quarterback class, to say it nicely, is average. No one guy stands out at this moment. You’d have to assume Bronco’s GM John Elway agrees with that assessment since he pulled the trigger so quickly on Flacco. I’ve always felt that if you pick a player in the first round, that player has to start day one. I just don’t feel that there are day one starters in this draft, which in my mind is why Flacco is a Bronco.
So what does this signing mean for the other teams that are quarterback-starved? It means another free agent/ “Gap” quarterback is about to hit the market. If the Broncos can’t find a team to trade their one and done QB, Case Keenum to, then he is expected to be released.