The Houston Texans could be hosting the Tennessee Titans at home on Sunday afternoon, in their first Conference Championship Game appearance, but they are not. Instead, they are at home, watching football like we are watching football after they blew a 24 point lead and allowed 41 points unanswered, losing 51-31 to the Kansas City Chiefs. I keep typing this. I keep reading this. And every time, it seems unreal, a fabrication of reality.
Just because the Texans are done doesn’t mean football has stopped. It’s still going, and it’s still really good. Here are our predictions as we continue watching the 2019 NFL Playoffs.
AFC Championship: Titans 28, Chiefs 31
Ideal Super Bowl: Tennessee Titans v. San Francisco 49ers
The Titans are more than unsustainable. They’re witchcraft. Red zone touchdown rate, stopping the Ravens on 4th and short, out Bill Belichicking Bill Belichick to drain time off the clock and turning his loophole against him, Derrick Henry averaging almost eight yards a carry in the third quarter, and the league’s best play action passing offense are all demon horns and bat fangs that create the strangest and most absurd way any team has ever won football games. It has to end one day. Maybe this weekend, maybe in two weeks, maybe next season. Eventually the devil will have to pay its dues.
I think it will be this week. Kansas City has a great passing attack. It’s still Patrick Mahomes. It’s still a bad run defense against Derrick Henry, a rushing attack that can’t close games out, and Andy Reid in a close playoff game. Oh no. It’s never going to stop. So TITAN UP.
The 49ers are incredible. They have the league’s most complete roster and have made playing quarterback a pretty easy thing to do. Matt LaFleur wishes he was Kyle Shanahan. Aaron Rodgers has to be Russell Wilson good to carry a good team against a great team. I’m not buying it. San Francisco should win big.
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AFC Championship: Titans 24, Chiefs 19
NFC Championship: 49ers 21, Packers 17
Ideal Super Bowl: Titans v. 49ers
I have no interest in these final four teams. None! I don’t find any of them interesting, and if they happen to be on during the regular season, I would change the channel. I’m a pretty picky observer when it comes to sports, and there are only a handful of NFL teams I will watch by choice with any real interest.
That being said, I am going to list my preference of outcomes based on the motivation to further rub Bill O’Brien’s nose in his limitations and failures as head coach of the Texans.
Kyle Shanahan should have been the coach targeted to replace Gary Kubiak, not O’Brien. Shanahan made the Texans’ offense one of the best in the league when he was here as the offensive coordinator, and he did the same in Atlanta. In just two years, he has elevated the 49ers from a dumpster fire to hosting the NFC Championship Game.
Mike Vrabel was an excellent position coach for the Texans’ linebackers, but he didn’t do as well as the defensive coordinator, even with R.A.C. just an arm’s reach away. However, as the “Leader of Men,” in just two years as the head coach in Tennessee, he has the Titans hammering out the exact style of football that O’Brien dreams of but has yet to accomplish in his six years in Houston.
I want to see both of these coaches and their teams in the Super Bowl to underscore that it often only takes a couple of years to right the ship for an NFL team and have them competing for a championship. O’Brien is going into his seventh season and has had the same results each year regardless of the talent across the roster, and regardless of who is at QB. He’s demonstrated his ceiling and capabilities, and there’s zero reason to think his performance will improve beyond that. He’s on the same level as Marvin Lewis and Jason Garrett.
AFC Championship: Chiefs 31, Titans 23
NFC Championship: Packers 27, 49ers 24
Look, it doesn’t help that the AFC Championship Game is on my birthday and I would have 10000% flown home to go to the game, but the fact that we beat both teams in the AFC Championship Game has me battling all sorts of internal strife. No one likes a sore loser, but after the beating we took in KC last week, who can’t help but being hurt? The Chiefs’ offense is a legit juggernaut, and I believe they have the defensive line to hold Derrick Henry to under 120 yards. Both teams will be coming in hot after their victories last week, but the Chiefs are an unstoppable force while only Henry is the unstoppable force for the Titans. One injury or knick and they fall apart.
Living in San Francisco, I can tell you not a single person cares about this game. The team is in Santa Clara, which is like if there was a Houston team in San Antonio. Did you care when the Spurs were in the NBA Finals? Didn’t think so. Between picking up the poop of the streets, the potential to collapse into the Pacific Ocean at any moment, and the next startup who serves kombucha with metal straws, we have too much to think about to root for the 49ers. I do not think the Packers are all that phenomenal of a team, but the playoffs have weeded out some of the better rosters through some amazing games. A rookie coach has invigorated this franchise and they are hard to stop when Aaron Rodgers is firing away.
AFC Championship: Chiefs 35, Titans 17
NFC Championship: 49ers 30, Packers 24
Ideal Super Bowl: Chiefs vs. Packers
All I want to see this round is to watch the Chiefs blow away another AFC South team so the Texans aren’t alone. I don’t think that will be much of a problem with Ryan Tannehill at quarterback. Tannehill will have to make a few key plays to keep pace with Chiefs’ high-powered offense. The 49ers showed earlier this season, and Brett’s video confirmed, that the Packers’ problems with Shanahan’s offense won’t be fixed in Round 2 against San Fran.
My ideal matchup is for the family. My grandfather still lives in Green Bay, and I will always root for the Pack when it comes to NFC football.
AFC Championship: Titans 30, Chiefs 27
NFC Championship: Packers 17, 49ers 28
Ideal Super Bowl: Titans v. 49ers
I’m rolling with the Titans in the championship games for a few reasons. One, they are the hot team. They played their way into the playoffs against the Texans backups, but since they got in, all they’ve done is make noise. The Patriots were overrated but they beat them in Foxborough. The Ravens were the favorites entering the playoffs and the Titans manhandled them too. Derrick Henry is on one of the greatest postseason rolls we’ve ever seen. I’ve learned one thing when it comes to the playoffs—don’t take the hot team lightly. The Chiefs are the better team, but weird things happen in the playoffs.
Two, I love Mike Vrabel. When he left the Texans to take over as the head coach of the Titans, I was legitimately sad. He seems to have what it takes to make it as a head coach in the NFL. He’s crazy enough to try anything, including cutting off certain parts of his anatomy for a Super Bowl. This is a guy who hands-down is going to find ways to help his team win. He’s already coached against Belichick and Harbaugh and won. It’ll be a good part of his legacy to take out Andy Reid this postseason as well.
I’m taking the 49ers in the NFC. I like the Packers and think they have some real talent. Of course, Aaron Rodgers could go supernova and make this pick look stupid, but I think they are probably a year away from seriously competing in the NFC. They’ve made it to the championship game on a mix of easy schedule and luck. I’m not taking anything away from them cause they still won 13 games, but they also got a beat-up Seahawks team in Lambeau to advance. The 49ers embarrassed them in Week 12; that was a long time ago, but that kind of beating leaves mental scars.
Kyle Shanahan will have a great game plan ready to go. The 49ers’ defense is looking like it’s in prime form. As long as Jimmy Garoppolo takes care of the ball, I think the 49ers run away with this one.
The ideal Super Bowl for me involves two former Texans coaches. It would create some great story lines as Kyle Shanahan attempts to erase the nightmare of the Falcons’ 28-3 collapse and Vrabel looks to solidify his place as one of the better young coaches in the game. Not only that, but Texans’ fans can drown their sorrows while thinking about what might have been had either of these guys stayed in town.
AFC Championship: I Reject The Premise.
NFC Championship: Packers 34 - Niners 28
Ideal Super Bowl: I reject the premise v. Packers.
I’ll be honest, once the Texans got pantsed in the divisional round, I kind of stopped paying attention. So while I still reject the premise of the very existence of the AFC title game this year, I think if there were one, it would be the Chiefs’ year. But fundamentally, my only interest is making sure that Tennessee does not get what they do not deserve, and I don’t even way to write it here because I’m cravenly superstitious.
Of the teams still remaining, the Packers remain the most palatable to me in the kind of “eh, they have the least awful fanbase still in the running” way, so I guess Go Pack Go or whatever the [kitten].
Furthermore, I contend that Bill O’Brien should be fired immediately.
AFC Championship: Crappy BBQ 38, BE-SFs 23
NFC Championship: Niners 32, Packers 24
I cannot believe, I honestly cannot believe, that Mike Vrabel is a better leader of men than BOB. Oh, maybe it’s because Vrabel has Dean Pees as his DC (not necessarily better than RAC!) and Arthur Smith as his OC (>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> etc. >>>>>> BOB).
Crappy BBQ still wins.
Two years ago, I was begging for Little Shanny to replace BOB as the HC. Guess which one is going to the Super Bowl, first! No, guess! Really!
AFC Championship: Titans 24, Chiefs 38
NFC Championship: Packers 12, 49ers 31
Superbowl: Chiefs v. 49ers
Mike Vrabel’s magical season ends here. Derrick Henry has been seemingly unstoppable but when you’re facing a team that gobbles up touchdowns like Pacman on a free play, you’ll have to revert to Ryan Tannehill’s ability to win this one. And, Tannehill isn’t going to stand toe-to-toe to playoff form Patrick Mahomes and measure up.
The Packers are just about as strong as ever, but the 49ers defense is something else. Aaron Rodgers gets knocked out of rhythm early and never recovers.
Please leave your picks below.