By Matthew Romano
The following article was printed in the February 2020 edition of The Campus.
(6) Tennessee Titans
MVP: Derrick Henry
Def. (3) New England Patriots: 20-13
Def. (1) Baltimore Ravens: 28-12
Loss @ (2) Kansas City Chiefs: 24-35
Despite their loss to the Chiefs, the Titans have still written their own Cinderella story this NFL Playoffs. (Fun Fact: the term ‘Cinderella story’ in Sports term first gained prominence in fact following City College’s own underdog story winning the 1950 NCAA and NIT championships, the same year Walt Disney released their film Cinderella.) The Tennessee Titans, behind the army tank disguised as a Running Back Derrick Henry, shocked the 3 seeded New England Patriots, derailing the empire’s hopes for a 4th straight ticket to the big game. The Cinderella story started there, picking up further steam with another surprising win, this time even more dominantly, with a 28-12 shooting down of the leagues 2nd best offense, the 14-2 Baltimore Ravens.
With the wins, two of the league’s top run defenses fell victim to Henry’s dominant, league leading, running game and ability. He gashed them for 377 yards on the ground, a rushing TD, and a passing score for good measure. Capping off what has been a career year for him. The Titans were 8-0 when Henry’s rush attack eclipsed the century mark (100 yards). The Titans ultimately lost to the Chiefs when he was held to 69 yards, further proving the accuracy of that stat.
(2) Kansas City Chiefs
MVP: Patrick Mahomes
Def. (4) Houston Texans 51-31
Def. (6) Tennessee Titans 35-24
Despite closing the divisional championship game against the Texans with a whopping 51 points and a 20-point advantage, the final score doesn’t come close to telling the true story of this battle. The Chiefs had to drop 41 unanswered points to erase a 24-0 deficit. Mahomes finished with 321 yards through the air, 5 passing touchdowns, and a Quarterback Rating (QBR) of 134.6. Their offense showed their similar trademark flair for large portions of their win over the Titans. With seemingly countless weapons, the fate of the Chiefs lies in Patrick Mahomes and their dynamic pass offense.
Though usually a widely susceptible defense, allowing 4.9 yards per completion (YPC) (28th in the League) and 128.2 yards per game (YPG) (26th in the league), the unit came up key in holding Derrick Henry to only 69 rushing yards. The 49’ers three-headed monster is an entirely different monster, however. The Chiefs will have to do something that they have failed to do this postseason, jump out to the early lead, if they want to have a chance at the Superbowl in their first visit since Superbowl IV.
(2) Green Bay Packers
MVP: Davante Adams
Def. (5) Seattle Seahawks 28-23
Loss @ (1) San Francisco 49’ers: 20-37
In the divisional rounds, the Packers held off a second-half comeback by the Seattle Seahawks to win 28-23. Their defense stifled an injury-riddled Seahawks team that struggled to get anything going with hometown favorite, “Beastmode” (also known as Marshawn Lynch) and failed to protect QB Russel Wilson. Yet, it is the 49’ers run game, Raheem Mostert particularly, that ended the Packers’ playoff hopes after a 2-year hiatus from playoff football.
Davante Adams, the last remaining starting wideout from the Packers’ 2017 team, remained the crucial piece of this Packers team this season. He was, by far, Rodger’s most and perhaps only trusted target in the passing game. After dropping 160 yards against the Seahawks, he gained 138 yards on the 49’ers. Besides failing to stop the 49’ers run attack, contributing to their loss is the 49’ers defense keeping Adams away from pay dirt and holding RB Aaron Jones to 56 yards. For context, the 49’ers were ranked as the top defense in pretty much all metrics including opposing YPG (169.2), YPA, and YPC.
(1) San Francisco 49’ers
MVP’s: Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert
Def. (6) Minnesota Vikings 27-10
Def. (2) Green Bay Packers 37-20
Perhaps the most dangerous team in the playoffs this year, the San Francisco 49’ers went undefeated this season when they did one of three things: pass for over 250 yards, rush for over 130 yards, or hold opponents to 20 points or fewer. Against both the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round and the Green Bay Packers in the Conference Championships, they pulled off two of three. As you would expect, this led to wins against both, and both by a commanding 17 points.
The 49’ers offensive attack, runs first and foremost through their three-headed monster in the backfield made up of Tevin Coleman, Matt Breida, and Raheem Mostert. They ran the ball 47 times for 186 yards against the Vikings in the divisional round, with Tevin Coleman taking control of the game. A similar story as was told against the Packers, where Raheem Mostert stomped all over them for 220 yards. All three combined for over 2,500 scrimmage yards and made the 49’ers the 2nd best rushing offense in yds/gm this season. If the Chiefs have any hopes of stopping them in this year’s Superbowl, they’ll need a repeat performance of their “stack-the-box” winning game plan deployed against the Titans.