By Harvey Hoffman
The table is set and the NFL’s Final Four are lined up to play next Sunday for the right to meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 3:
AFC championship game: No. 6 Tennessee Titans at No. 2 Kansas City Chiefs — KC is a 7 1/2-point favorite, and the over is 51 1/2
Sunday, 3:05 p.m. (CBS)
The Chiefs needed the postseason’s most explosive performance to get to this point, rallying to beat the Houston Texans, 51-31, in the divisional round after falling behind 24-0. That game featured the most first-half points in postseason history, and Kansas City became the first team to score 30 points in these playoffs — before the third quarter had ended.
The Titans advanced to the AFC title game after two shocking road upsets, beating the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and then the Baltimore Ravens, who had the NFL’s best record in the regular season. Tennessee has relied on brilliant running back Derrick Henry, who has 377 rushing yards in the two playoff wins and more rushing yards through his first four playoff games than any other back in NFL history. The Titans are trying to become the first No. 6 seed in the Super Bowl since Green Bay after the 2010 season.
Tennessee hosted Kansas City in a mid-November barnburner, with the Titans scoring the go-ahead touchdown in the last minute of a 35-32 win. The Chiefs had a potential tying field goal blocked on the final play. Kansas City has won seven straight since that loss, and the Titans have won six of eight.
The Titans haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1999 season, while the star-crossed Chiefs, who will host the AFC title game for the second year in a row, haven’t been to the Super Bowl since the 1969 season.
NFC championship game: No. 2 Green Bay Packers at No. 1 San Francisco 49ers — SF is a 7-pt. fave and the over is 45 1/2
Sunday, 6:40 p.m. (Fox)
One of the NFC’s greatest rivalries will be renewed Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif., although the faces will largely be new. Packers Coach Matt LaFleur is in his first season as a head coach, and like San Francisco’s Kyle Shanahan, he is just 40 years old. San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had never started a playoff game before Saturday’s convincing win over the Minnesota Vikings, and his biggest offensive weapons (George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman) are 27 or younger.
But Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers brings plenty of history by himself. The two-time NFL MVP hasn’t been to the Super Bowl in nearly a decade, and while he has adapted to a less adventurous offensive approach this season, he remains Green Bay’s leader.
The teams met in November, and host San Francisco earned a dominant 37-8 win, with Rodgers turning in one of the least impressive performances of his career. If they can repeat that performance, the 49ers will be heading to the Super Bowl.