- Green highllight indicates plus matchup (top eight)
- Red highlight indicates negative matchup (bottom eight)
Titans at Chiefs
- (Green) Line: KC -7.5 Total: 53.0
Game Thoughts: Incredibly, the Titans have knocked off
the Patriots and Ravens on the road over the past two weeks with
Ryan Tannehill completing a combined 15 passes and failing to
top 100 yards in either game. Last week against Baltimore, he
was 7-for-14 for 88 yards and a pair of touchdowns. And yet somehow
that was enough to eliminate presumptive MVP Lamar Jackson in
the weekend's biggest upset. I keep thinking the Titans will need
more from Tannehill to advance, but they proved me wrong last
week. He's impossible to rely on right now.
Tennessee's run-heavy approach has been especially hard on A.J.
Brown, who has just two catches for 13 yards in the postseason.
He was scarcely involved in the team's Week 10 win over the Chiefs,
either, in what was essentially their playoff game plan where
Tannehill attempted just 19 passes in a 35-32 win. Brown remains
the only playable Titans receiver, though, as neither Corey Davis
nor Jonnu Smith (who scored last week) see regular action. The
return of Adam Humphries (ankle) could be an interesting development
as he's their top short-yardage wideout.
Kansas City finished eighth in the NFL against the pass this
year, allowing 221.4 yards per game. They're arguably better than
that now and did a pretty good job of locking down a much more
explosive Texans aerial attack last week – don't be fooled
by the inflated final numbers. The only way I'd expect much from
Tannehill and company is if the Titans fall behind early and need
to play catch up.
KC FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.19
KC FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.6
KC FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.31
KC FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.11
Running Game Thoughts: Derrick Henry (30 carries, 195 yards)
is putting together a postseason for the ages, putting the team
on his back the past two weeks and proving almost impossible to
stop even when the opponent knows what's coming. Henry blistered
the Chiefs for 188 yards and two scores on 23 carries back on
Nov. 10, and you can bet he'll be the centerpiece of the Titans'
game plan this Sunday against a run defense that finished 26th
(128.2 yards per game) and is unlikely to have Chris Jones (calf)
Game Thoughts: Down 24-0 almost immediately, Patrick
Mahomes not only led the Chiefs to a comeback win but a blowout.
The former MVP completed 23 of his 35 passes for 321 yards and
five touchdowns without an interception. Mahomes added another
53 yards on the ground in what was a dominant performance despite
several terrible dropped passes by his receivers early on. Mahomes
will try to propel KC to the Super Bowl for the first time since
1970 this Sunday.
Travis Kelce shook off an early drop to record 10 catches, 134
yards and three TDs despite some lingering knee trouble that saw
him play sparingly once the Chiefs got the lead and pushed out.
Fellow playmaker Tyreek Hill had a brutal fumble on special teams
and took a hard shot as part of a forgettable three-catch, 41-yard
performance. Sammy Watkins (2-76-0) was solid while the fringe
guys -- Mecole Hardman (2-19-0) and Demarcus Robinson (1-4-0 with
multiple drops) -- contributed little.
Tennessee finished 24th against the pass this season and hasn't
had to contend with an offense like this over the first two playoff
games. Back in Week 10, the Chiefs threw for 446 yards and three
TDs in what was Mahomes' first game back from injury. You can
bet the Chiefs will test Tennessee's secondary again this Sunday,
and their quick-strike ability should keep them in the game regardless
of what Henry does.
HOU FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.3
HOU FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.8
HOU FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.13
HOU FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.9
Running Game Thoughts: Damien Williams has emerged as the clear
No. 1 back for the Chiefs down the stretch, including his 47-yard,
two-TD performance in the divisional round (he added a TD catch
as well). LeSean McCoy, meanwhile, has been completely phased
out, seeing just one snap and no touches last Sunday. Tennessee
did a great job against the Ravens, regardless of the final totals,
but KC couldn't be more different. Look for them to pick their
spots with Williams here.
Packers @ 49ers
- (Swanson) Line: SF -7.5 Total: 46.0
Game Thoughts: Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers
secured a place in the NFC Championship game with a controversial
28-23 win over the Seahawks last week at Lambeau Field. A disputed
marking of a third down pass to Jimmy Graham gave the Packers
a first down and a chance to close out the clock, giving Rodgers
a chance to win his second NFC title game in four tries.
The two matchups to watch in the passing game are the 49ers secondary
and how they matchup against Davante Adams, and the 49ers vaunted
pass rush going against the Packers offensive line.
The Seahawks curiously did not double team Adams much, allowing
two-time pro bowl receiver a chance to roam freely in the secondary.
San Francisco has not doubled many receivers this season, and
defensive coordinator Robert Saleh will no doubt focus on making
sure Adams is a primary focus for the defense.
Richard Sherman does not travel to guard the star receiver for
the opposing teams, so he will only be matched up when Adams lines
up on the right side of the formation.
Only the Steelers and the Panthers averaged more sacks per game
than the 49ers this season. On the other side of the line of scrimmage,
the Packers finished first in pass protection according to ESPN
and 10th according to FootballOutsiders.com. Whichever team comes
out ahead in this aspect of the game will have a significant upper
San Francisco sacked Rodgers five times in their 37-8 lopsided
victory when the two teams faced off in November, with Rodgers
throwing for a mere 104 yards and one touchdown.
Not only did the 49ers shut down Rodgers and with constant pressure,
but Aaron Jones was also limited to 38 rush yards on 13 carries.
If the Packers are unable to run the ball and consistently leave
Rodgers in long third downs, he will be a tackling dummy once
again for Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, and Fred Warner.
Injuries are another thing to watch in this game, as the 49ers
continue to get healthy at a critical time in the season. Dee
Ford returned to the game last week and made his presence felt
with a sack of Kirk Cousins, and starting strong safety Jaquiski
Tartt returned to the field as well with linebacker Kwon Alexander.
The 49ers managed four sacks of Rodgers when they played the
first time in the regular season without Ford and Alexander. The
front seven should be even more potent this Sunday in the Championship
SF FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.24
SF FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.30
SF FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.20
SF FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.28
Running Game Thoughts: Only the New England Patriots and the
Tampa Bay Bucs allowed fewer fantasy points to running backs this
season the San Francisco. Only Kenyon Drake and Christian McCaffrey
managed to reach 100 yards rushing, and only Todd Gurley in Week
16 was able to score double-digit touchdowns against the 49ers.
Perhaps more impressive was the lack of receiving yards given
up by the defense, considering they played against some of the
best pass-catching running backs in the league, including McCaffrey,
Alvin Kamara, Aaron Jones, and Todd Gurley. No opposing running
back scored a receiving touchdown, and no back topped more than
52 yards in any game.
49ers linebackers are quick and don’t miss many tackles.
If you want to run the ball, outside of the tackles has been more
open against this team than in the A-Gaps, and passing the ball
to running backs has been an exercise in futility.
Despite this uphill battle, the only way the Packers win this
game is by running the ball and winning the turnover battle. If
Aaron Jones can only must 38 yards on the ground like he did the
first time they met, the Pack will be in for a long afternoon.
Game Thoughts: The 49ers steamrolled the Minnesota Vikings
last week 27-10, with the vaunted San Francisco defense creating
havoc for Kirk Cousins and the Vikings offense and the running
game for the 49ers dominated throughout the game.
The one low spot for the 49ers was the play of Jimmy Garoppolo,
who completed just 11 of 19 passes for 131 yards and a score.
Jimmy G threw a terrible interception to Eric Kendricks that led
to a Vikings field goal in the second half. It was the second
time in the game in which Garoppolo did not see Kendricks roaming
the middle of the field in zone coverage.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan responded to Garoppolo’s gaff
by running the ball eight straight times in the team’s next
offensive possession, culminating in a Tevin Coleman rushing touchdown.
The good news for the 49ers in this matchup is the fact that
should Jimmy G once again struggle to make plays in the passing
game, the 49ers match up well against a Packers defense that gave
up the 10th-most points to opposing running backs in the regal
season and 15 rushing touchdowns.
When Jimmy G is called upon to make a play with his arm, look
for him to once again lean on tight end George Kittle. Green Bay
ranked 13th in fantasy points allowed to tight ends in the regular
season, with Kittle himself torching the Pack for 129 yards and
a score on six catches.
Mike Pettine will no doubt look for a way to make up for his
team’s deficiencies in covering Kittle from their previous
matchup, but on paper, the Packers do not have someone with the
size and speed to keep up with the Pro Bowl tight end - not may
It would also not surprise me to see Emmanuel Sanders break out
of his recent production slump and deliver a solid game against
the Packers. Troy Aikman mentioned multiple times how well Sanders
was playing and the routes he was running, despite not getting
the ball from Garoppolo.
Shanahan will point this out to Jimmy G in their film session
and look to exploit this in Sunday’s game.
GB FPts Allowed vs. QBs: No.27
GB FPts Allowed vs. RBs: No.10
GB FPts Allowed vs. WRs: No.23
GB FPts Allowed vs. TEs: No.13
Running Game Thoughts: The 49ers rushing attack that finished
second to the Baltimore Ravens in yards per game is the key to
victory for San Francisco on Sunday. Green Bay gave up an average
of 120 rushing yards per game this season and the 10th most fantasy
points to running backs.
The 49ers had their way with the Packers when the teams faced
off in November, and the 49ers did not have two of their best
blockers in Kyle Juszczyk and tight end George Kittle. Both players
are widely considered the best run blockers at their respective
positions, giving an already potent running attack and even greater
advantage over the Packers.
Tevin Coleman proved to be the best running back on the day last
week against the Vikings with two rushing touchdowns, with Matt
Breida limited to a few unproductive runs and Raheem Mostert leaving
with a calf injury.
Mostert was a full participant on Wednesday’s practice
and should be good to go against the Packers, while Coleman will
likely once again get the start and the first crack to be the