Tennessee outlasted Kansas City 35-32 on Nov. 11, behind 188 yards rushing and two TDs from Derrick Henry and Ryan Tannehill’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Adam Humphries with 23 seconds left.
The loss spoiled the return of NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes, and dropped the Chiefs to 6-4. At the time, it seemed as if the season was slipping away from Kansas City. It wasn’t. Mahomes and the Chiefs reeled off six consecutive victories to end the regular season, winning the AFC West title and the conference’s No. 2 seed.
Two months later, Henry and the Titans may be the NFL’s hottest team, while Mahomes and the surging Chiefs are aiming to finally end the league’s fourth-longest Super Bowl drought.
So what do the Chiefs and Titans need to do to reach Miami and face the NFC champion in two weeks in Super Bowl LIV? We asked SI’s team-channel reporters for Kansas City and Tennessee to break down their biggest keys to the AFC title game.
Tennessee Titans vs. Kansas City Chiefs Playoff Betting Preview
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been here before.
Last year, Kansas City was on the doorstep of its first Super Bowl appearance in nearly 50 years, needing a home victory against New England to reach Atlanta. The Chiefs fell short in overtime.
One year later, the Chiefs play host to the Titans, seeking a trip to Miami for Super Bowl LIV. They face an upstart Tennessee Titans team that may be the hottest in the NFL. So how can Kansas City reach football’s biggest stage for the first time since Super Bowl IV in 1970? What does Chiefs head coach Andy Reid need to happen if he wants to make a second career Super Bowl appearance?
Chiefs Digest takes a closer look at the keys to victory from Kansas City’s perspective, plus the key matchups that will decide the game.
More AFC Championship Coverage: Titans, Chiefs Collide With Super Bowl in Sight
The Titans already have eliminated the defending Super Bowl champions (New England) and the AFC’s No. 1 seed (Baltimore) on the road. Seeking its first Super Bowl trip in 20 years — and second in franchise history — Tennessee now must win again away from home, this time in Kansas City.
How can the Titans do it?
“You have to be able to do things before you have confidence in them,” Titans coach Mike Vrabel said. “You can’t just talk about it. You have to go and do it and experience it and understand that, ‘Hey, if we execute these keys … we win [if] we execute the game plan, and players make plays.’
“So, you have to have those experiences that you’ve done it to be able to draw upon it. The more you do it, the more confident that you get.”
Titans Maven breaks down his three keys to a Tennessee victory over the Chiefs.