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AFC Championship lessons: Don’t bet against Patrick Mahomes; Chiefs can play smash-mouth football

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The Chiefs managed to accomplish what the Patriots and Ravens could not: tame the Titans.

Kansas City defeated Tennessee 35-24 Sunday in the AFC Championship, showing it was the much better football team, and humiliating alleged savvy prognosticators who picked the Titans to cover the spread — like yours truly. After falling behind 17-7, the Chiefs scored 28 unanswered points, putting the Titans in a multi-score hole. With Derrick Henry neutralized — he didn’t attempt a single rush past 8:00 in the 3rd quarter — Ryan Tannehill was forced to try and throw the Titans to victory. Unsurprisingly, he failed.

Chiefs can stop the run

The Chiefs are now heading to their first Super Bowl in 50 years, gearing up for a matchup with the 49ers. The early betting line lists the Chiefs as -1.5. It looks like Super Bowl 54 will be a pick ‘em.

Before we bet on the big game, however, it’s important to reflect on the lessons learned from Kansas City’s dominant AFC championship win. In fact, the Chiefs have already answered many of the questions we will be asking over the upcoming two weeks in preparation of their matchup against San Francisco.

Derrick Henry had been bulldozing opponents over the last two months, rushing for over 100 yards in seven of his previous eight games. His excellence allowed Tannehill to only strike at opportune times, such as when he opened up the Ravens defense in the Divisional Round with a 45-yard touchdown strike to Kalif Raymond.

But the Chiefs suffocated Henry Sunday, holding him to just 69 yards on 13 carries. Following Henry’s first quarter touchdown run, the Chiefs stacked the box, and were able to neutralize Henry at the line of scrimmage. The adjustment forced Mike Vrabel to abandon the run game.

Given the strength of San Francisco’s rushing attack, it will once again be imperative for the Chiefs to win up front. They showed they can.

The Chiefs’ defense shut down Derrick Henry in the AFC Championship. (Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports)

Chiefs may be down, but they’re never out

So far this postseason, the Chiefs have been outscored 38-7 in the first quarter. They’ve outscored their opponents 79-24 the rest of the way.

Patrick Mahomes seemingly lit up the Titans’ defense at will Sunday, nailing Tyreek Hill with two first-half touchdowns to get Kansas City on the board. Mahomes’ highlight of the day was a 60-yard touchdown bomb to Sammy Watkins, which iced the contest.

There is no stopping Patrick Mahomes. As the Niners will learn, you can only hope to contain him.

Patrick Mahomes put up 28 unanswered points in the AFC Championship (Credit: Charlie Neibergall — AP Photos)

But actually, Mahomes is pretty much unstoppable

We all know it’s smart to bet the “over” on Mahomes’ passing yards. But on Sunday, he showed he can be a weapon on the ground as well. He led the Chiefs with 53 yards on eight runs, including an incredible 27-yard touchdown scramble in the second quarter.

Paltry tackling aside, the run showed just how dangerous Mahomes is. In addition to his rocket arm, he possesses speed and agility.

Here’s hoping for multiple Patrick Mahomes vs. Nick Bosa foot races.

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