The table is set for the 49ers defense to lead San Francisco to the Super Bowl.
By: Elias McMillan
Divisional Round: 2-2
Conference Championship Sunday
AFC Championship Game
Tennessee @ Kansas City – The Titans are taking all challengers this post season. RB Derrick Henry is leading the way on the ground, punishing defenses. And QB Ryan Tannehill is making big plays when called upon. On defense, Tennessee’s secondary has also been impressive. That unit will be tested often on Sunday with a trip to the Super Bowl on the line. Kansas City was down early, big last week at home but that explosive offense was able to pull them out of the fire real quick. Houston didn’t do any favors for themselves either, as they made some mistakes down the stretch. I don’t think the Chiefs will be able to afford another slow start this Sunday. Tennessee has done a great job with ball control and staying away from game altering mistakes. I think Tennessee’s run game will do its job and keep KC’s offense on the bench, which could take the home crowd out of the game. If the Chiefs are able to bottle up Henry, Tennessee’s defense will be in serious trouble. They’ve done a good job so far in the playoffs but Kansas City is able to challenge them vertically unlike any other they have faced. I think the extra attention on the Titans backfield could open things for Tannehill and his young receivers. The Titans brand of football isn’t as fun and exciting as what Kansas City or what Baltimore was offering but it is working. It would just stink if it just came to a complete halt on Sunday. I’m rooting for the upset. Not sure it will happen but its what I’m wishing for. Another conference championship heartbreak for Andy Reid. Prediction: Titans over Chiefs
NFC Championship Game
Green Bay @ San Francisco – This 49ers team has been built for moments like this. San Fran is physical, they can run the ball and they have one of the league’s top defenses. That formula usually works in January. Green Bay will be the road underdogs in this NFC Championship game and it is easy to see why. I don’t think Green Bay’s offense is dynamic enough to get through the 49ers defense for 4 quarters. QB Aaron Rodgers played great against Seattle last week, finding WR Davante Adams for multiple big gains. I think that 49ers defensive front four will be able to limit the Rodgers-Adams connection. San Fran also defended the run pretty well last week, too. We might see quite a few screen plays from the Packers offense on Sunday to counter the 49ers’ aggressiveness. For the 49ers on offense, they just have to continue to keep things simple and stick to what works. QB Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t have a great game statistically but he stayed away from mistakes for the most parts. The big thing for him is that when he does screw up, he knows he has a great running game that he can lean on. I think the result of this game will be the least shocking one of the weekend. Prediction: 49ers over Packers