The Journal Gazette
 
 
Tuesday, January 14, 2020 1:00 am

Title games come with questions

Barry Wilner | Associated Press

After a wild weekend of historic offensive performances by Derrick Henry and nearly every Kansas City Chiefs player, we have the answers to the makeup of the NFL's Final Four.

The NFC, following a wild-card weekend in which both wild cards won, settled down to top-seeded San Francisco and No. 2 Green Bay reaching the championship game. It's a classic rivalry that will resume Sunday when the Niners (14-3) play host to the Packers (14-3).

“This is where it really gets fun. There's only four teams left, and we're one of them, and we've got a legitimate chance,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers says.

It will be the eighth postseason meeting since 1995 for the Packers and Niners.

In the AFC, Tennessee has been the giant killer. The Titans rode the relentless running of Henry past the defending champion Patriots last weekend. On Saturday, they did in the league's best during the regular season, turning two Ravens turnovers and two fourth-and-1 stops into 28 points. That was more than enough as the defense kept All-Pro quarterback Lamar Jackson and the NFL's most prolific offense off-stride most of the night.

In the early game Sunday, the Titans (11-7) visit the Chiefs (13-4).

So here's what we're wondering:

A 6th seed?

Can a team that sneaked into the postseason on the final Sunday emulate the 2005 Steelers and 2010 Packers? Tennessee has that look.

The Titans fear no one, as they showed first in Foxborough, Massachusetts, and then in Baltimore. Their defense is versatile, physical and well coached. When they dominate in the trenches, they win, and the Titans have controlled the line of scrimmage in both road playoff victories.

And then there's Henry, the first player with two games of 175 rushing yards or more in the same postseason. He has set the postseason single-game rushing record for the Titans in consecutive weeks.

Most versatile?

Doing nearly everything well often keys a Super Bowl run.

Kansas City's defense stepped up down the stretch, but it generally struggled against the Texans. The offense can do anything, but the special teams are uncertain.

Tennessee certainly can run the ball. Yet it's won with quarterback Ryan Tannehill basically being pedestrian in the playoffs.

Green Bay has a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback, a spectacular receiver, do-it-all running back and steady enough line. What it lacks is reliability in the secondary.

So that leaves the Niners, whose biggest question mark entering the playoffs was QB Jimmy Garoppolo's lack of experience. We can scratch that worry. We also know this team can catch the ball, run it, pursue on defense, cover in the passing game and unnerve opposing passers. 

Can Andy do it?

Few coaches have been so successful in more than one location as Kansas City's Andy Reid without owning a ring. Reid got to the 2005 Super Bowl, where his Eagles lost to New England.

He's unquestionably the most accomplished of the four remaining coaches, though Tennessee's Mike Vrabel has three rings as a player. Reid has a 12-14 career record in the postseason.


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