The postseason is rocketing toward a crescendo, and MDS enjoys a one-game lead with three to play because someone (i.e., me) foolishly believed the Vikings would beat the 49ers — and failed to surrender to the gut feeling that the Titans would beat the Ravens.
This week, we disagree on one game. Which gives me a chance to forge a tie heading into the Super Bowl.
For our picks, keep reading.
Titans at Chiefs
MDS’s take: The Titans have a path to victory in this game, and it’s similar to their path to victory in the regular season: An efficient day for Ryan Tannehill, a lot of yards for Derrick Henry, and some special teams breaks going their way. But I don’t see that as the most likely path. More likely, Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs’ offense proves it just has too much firepower for the Titans to stop, and Tennessee’s run-first game plan proves not to put enough points on the board. Kansas City is going to the Super Bowl.
MDS’s pick: Chiefs 30, Titans 17.
Florio’s take: The Titans narrowly beat the Chiefs in Week 10, but Tennessee should have been blown out. In his first game back from a knee injury, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was slower than he is now, which made him less dynamic as a thrower. He still generated more than 400 passing yards, and he’ll likely do it again. Will the Chiefs be able to stop Derrick Henry? If they can build enough of a lead, yes, because the Titans will have to abandon the run, at some point.
Florio’s pick: Chiefs 34, Titans 24.
Packers at 49ers
MDS’s take: This game wasn’t close in the regular season, and I don’t think it’s going to be close in the postseason, either. The 49ers’ defense is going to shut down Aaron Rodgers, and although Aaron Jones will have a decent game on the ground, that won’t be enough. The 49ers will take an early lead, their defense will protect it, and the running game will grind out the clock in the fourth quarter as San Francisco gets back to the Super Bowl.
MDS’s pick: 49ers 28, Packers 13.
Florio’s take: The 37-8 victory in Week 12 becomes a ball and chain for the 49ers this time around. Despite the margin, the game turned sharply against the Packers during a first half that featured dumb penalties, a very untimely fumble, a misguided decision to run from shotgun formation on fourth and one while down by only 10 points, and horrendous clock management near the end of the second quarter. If it’s a lot closer than 23-0 when the third quarter starts on Sunday, the Packers will have a very real chance to win — especially since Aaron Rodgers is keenly aware of his football mortality and Jimmy Garoppolo has the potential to make a critical mistake in crunch time. If the Packers can weather the early storm, they can steal a Super Bowl appearance late, setting up rematch of what was called at the time the AFL-NFL World Championship Game to cap the NFL’s 100th season.
Florio’s pick: Packers 24, 49ers 21.