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The Antelope

NFL Playoffs leaving everybody wanting more

nfl playoffs preview


As the calendar turned over to a new decade, the sunset on the 100th season of the NFL and rose on the 2020 NFL playoffs.

This year’s playoffs have had plenty twist and turns.

On the AFC side, the perennial playoff royalty and defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots were upset by the upstart Tennessee Titans 20-13.

The biggest surprise was dealt at the hands of Tennessee for the second week in a row.

They beat a seemingly unstoppable Baltimore Ravens who were 14-2 in the regular season 28-12. The front runner for NFL Player of the year, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was not himself, throwing 2 interceptions and losing a fumble.

Kansas City erased a 24-0 deficit against Houston and won in dominant fashion 51-31 to advance to the AFC title game for the second season in a row.

Coming into the 2019 NFL regular season, nobody would have expected the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers to be playing for the NFC Title. In 2018 the 49ers had a record of 4-12 and the Packers were 6-9-1.

In 2019 both teams stayed healthy and rolled to the NFC North and West titles with a record of 13-3.

In the 49ers first playoff game, they were matched up with the Minnesota Vikings who upset the Saints in the Wild Card.

San Francisco’s number one defense in the NFC held Dalvin Cook and Kirk Cousins in check, giving up only 147 yards of total offense in a 27-10 victory for the 49ers.

In the Packers Divisional Round game, they played the Seattle Seahawks. The frigid Sunday night game at Lambeau got off to a hot start for Green Bay.

Aaron Rodgers found his favorite target Davonte Adams for the game’s first score and Aaron Jones had two rushing touchdowns to give the Packers a 21-3 lead at the half.

Seattle and Russel Wilson thawed out in the second half and got within five at 28-23 midway through the fourth. Green Bay did just enough, on the defensive side of the ball to stop the Seahawks on their next possession and secure the victory.

Going into the Conference Championships this weekend both games look very interesting on paper.

On the AFC side, the question remains about can Kansas City finally get over their playoff woes and return to the Super Bowl for the first time since 1970 when they beat the Minnesota Vikings 23-7.

Last season they came up just short of beating the Patriots at home in a 37-31 defeat, leaving many Chief faithful to wonder if the outcome of the game would have been different if they could have gotten Patrick Mahomes the ball on offense just one more time.

This season, he has been just as dynamic on offense as last season and has gotten more help on the defensive side of the ball.

In the offseason, the Chiefs picked up Tyrann Mathieu from Houston to help tighten up the secondary. The turning point in the season for the Chiefs might be when they got Terrel Suggs off waivers from the Cardinals on Dec.17.

The defense has looked better and is gaining confidence with each game. After a dismal start on offense and special teams last week, Kansas City’s defense held the Texans to seven points the rest of the game.

Mahomes had 321 yards passing yards and 5 touchdowns in the game. He will need a similar performance against the Titans.

For Tennessee it’s very simple how they are going to win this game, it’s by bleeding the clock on offense and playing good defense.

In the first two rounds of the playoffs, Derrick Henry and the Titans running game has been nothing short of spectacular. Through two playoff games, they are averaging 209 yards on the ground.

During this time frame, Henry set an NFL record for three straight performances with over 150 rushing yards. Against the Patriots in the Wild Card, he had 182 yards and against the Ravens, in the Divisional Round, he rushed for 195 yards.

Tennessee has only one Super Bowl appearance in their 21-year history. It was back in their first year as a team when they fell one yard short of beating the Rams and the infamous “Greatest Show on Turf”.

They would only be the third team to reach the Super Bowl as a Wild Card since the divisions were realigned back in 2002. The only other teams to make the Super Bowl as a Wild Card were the 2010 Pittsburg Steelers and the 2007 New York Giants. In both instances, they won.

A big portion of this game comes down to defense. Can the Chiefs stop the seemingly unstoppable Henry, or can the Titans stop Mahomes and his talented receiving core in KC?

Whoever answers that question, finds their way to Miami.

The NFC Championship game features two young coaches in Kyle Shanahan for San Francisco and Matt LaFleur for Green Bay. Both started the season at 39 years of age and are now 40 years old.

Looking at the Packers roster it seemingly looks very unimpressive. They really don’t have lots of flashy star power and Aaron Rodgers has not been MVP caliber like in previous seasons.

What they do have, is a knack for winning close games. In the regular season, eight of Green Bay’s 13 wins were decided by one possession.

Aaron Jones has been a big reason for that at the running back position. He has been a vital pass catcher with 478 receiving yards and 1,084 rushing yards. Add that to his league-leading 16 rushing touchdowns.

His play this season is very similar to Dorsey Levens when the Packers won the Super Bowl back in 1997.

San Francisco’s turn around from a season ago has been fueled by the ball general Jimmy Garoppolo and a stout defense.

Garoppolo’s 3,978 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions don’t jump out at you on the page. Last week against the Vikings he threw for 131 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.

Most people see those stats and wouldn’t think much of it.

What makes him good is his ability to not turn the ball over when it matters most. In key situations, he finds his receiving targets George Kittle and Deebo Samuel.

One thing is for sure, going into Sunday both teams will lay everything out on the line in hopes of having their miraculous season finish in Miami.


Titans at Chiefs-

– In a rematch of a 35-32 regular-season win by Tennessee, the Titans come out victorious once again. Derrick Henry touches the ball over thirty times and rushes for 150 yards on the ground for the fourth straight game. Like last season, Patrick Mahomes comes up one possession short from making it to the Super Bowl. Titans win in a game that goes down to the wire by a score of 28-24.

Packers at 49ers-

– This game comes down to the experience factor and Aaron Rodgers has it. After a shaky performance against the Vikings, I don’t know if Jimmy Garoppolo can bounce back on the

big stage. To win this game, he needs to be more than a manager of the game and I am not convinced he can do that. The 49ers defense keeps it close, but they fall short by a final of 24-21.

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